“Manage your expectations wisely because the disappointment of failed expectations can shackle us forever and make our lives and the lives of others more miserable than they ever needed to be.” Judith Land
Our lives are directly influenced by our expectations. High achievers are big thinkers and visionaries known to have ambitious expectations and targets with definitive goals and objectives in mind that they would like to accomplish. High aspirations and goals are directly linked to lofty expectations. The pygmalion effect is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. The golem effect is when expectations are low and there is a corresponding decrease in performance.
Individuals on opposing sides of the adoption triangle are faced with alternatives leading to an assortment of expectations. The classic story line and expectations for the birth mother who believes her child will benefit from adoption, “My expectation is a good-hearted surrogate mother will automatically surface to take my place. She will provide my child with a better life than me, if I willingly disown my own child by vacating my role as the birth mother; resign all legal authority, and parental obligations; relinquish all personal ties, and responsibility; terminate the birthright legacy, the path to the crown and inheritance.” The adoptive mother who believes she is virtuous by nature reinforces the birth mother’s beliefs and counters, “My expectation is warm cookies and milk, lots of love and hugs, good schools, a beautiful home, a happy family, and a pleasant safe environment will help nuture ‘my’ adopted child to overcome deep-rooted psychological issues inherent to adoption, including the primal wound, separation syndrome, PTSD, and a plethora of other known afflictions unique to adoption.” Expectations for the unassuming adoptee high on self-efficacy naively believes, “If I search for my birth mother, she will warmly welcome me back into her life with open arms?”
When we use sound judgement based on common sense and apply fair and reasonable standards to our decisions we automatically assume our expectations will be achieved. In reality, expectations are purely conjecture about what the future might hold, based upon strongly held assumptions, personal experiences, and convictions. Sometimes, they are based on limited information provided to us by others in positions of authority that we sincerely trust, including parents, relatives, friends, priests and social workers—but what if their assumptions are wrong and the advice they provided us is poor, or based on false assumptions? When will we find out?
Eventually, with age comes maturity and wisdom and we finally come to the realization that expectations are not agreements between people; they are simple beliefs that a certain outcome can be realistically achieved or delivered and the events and course of action we envision will happen as expected.
Most of us believe it is a good thing to have standards established in advance and expect them to be met, but what if they aren’t? What happens when we come to the realization that our expectations will never be achieved and outcomes will not occur as planned? Expectations that rely on the performance of strangers are always at risk. In the real world, obligations are often uncertain because “others” don’t always have the energy, commitment, sense of obligation, the interest, or the talent needed to follow through to completion to make “our” life-long dreams come true. The fact that future outcomes become less certain over time is also a cold hard fact of life.
Life is a challenge—proceed with caution because expectations influence your attitude, decisions, behaviors, and perspectives, as well as your interactions with others. Form them wisely because when formulated realistically expectations contain extraordinary power to affect reality, create wealth, and improve your life.