A significant portion of our emotions, thoughts, and expectations of life are guided by what we have seen in films, read in novels or have been passed down the generations. As a result, we build a set of expectations of how life will pan out from an early age. These are often unrealistic expectations.
Young children often act out fairytale fantasies of meeting their prince or rescuing their princess. As they grow older, they recognise that life doesn’t quite follow this narrative but they may hold on to an element of unrealistic expectations. For example, many people hold out for their soulmate and as a result miss out on many rewarding relationships in their adult life.
Although an element of fantasy and aiming high in life is healthy, having unrealistic expectations can put a lot of pressure on a person and strains on their relationships with others.
No situation or person can be perfect at all times and if you don’t accept this, you will feel constantly disappointed. All relationships will consist of both good and bad times, highs and lows.
In most cases, unrealistic expectations positively correlate with issues with control and power. People who harbour unrealistic expectations often have a stronger desire to dictate how others behave around them. This is a way for them to make their actions fit into their high expectations.
This kind of behaviour is unsustainable in a healthy relationship. So, it’s worth looking out for signs that you, or someone you know, may hold unrealistic expectations of life before it can impact your relationships.
5 Key Signs You May Be Harboring Unrealistic Expectation
1.You expect people to know what you are feeling and why.
This is particularly pertinent in romantic relationships where one person holds unrealistic expectations. It’s a slippery slope and will result in constant disappointment and resentment.
No relationship, romantic or not, can survive without each party communicating honestly and clearly about how they feel.
2. Once you’re happy with a situation or person, you like things to stay the same.
This is a classic example of an unrealistic expectation because as we know, life is in flux and things cannot stay the same. People grow older, they fall in and out of love. Whilst it may not match the fairy tale stories we’ve heard or the movies we’ve seen, it’s an unavoidable part of life.
3. You avoid conflict.
You don’t want to rock the boat because it doesn’t fit in with your unrealistic expectations of the scenario or person. Perhaps you’ve landed a job that you think is perfect for you and all you ever hoped for.
It would break the illusion to have a conflict with a difficult personality in the workplace. Thus, you avoid it with potential negative consequence.
Conflict is a part of life that can serve both positive and negative purposes. It allows people to move forward and progress. It is unreasonable to think that every part of your life will be and should be, conflict-free.
4. You feel like you don’t need to work on relationships.
You think that if someone is meant to be in your life, then the relationship will ‘just work.’ This is another common outlook from someone with unrealistic expectations.
And ultimately, it’s a somehow lazy point of view. Even the strongest of marriages take lots of work over the years. People change over the years and you must adapt to keep the bond strong.
5. Other people call you a perfectionist.
This may be positive in some workplace situations. At the same time, it can also be detrimental to your mental health and relationships around you. Perfectionism can go beyond liking your coffee in a particular way or colour coding your files. It can seep into your attitudes towards other people and result in them feeling unworthy in your presence.
If you identify with several of the 5 signs of unrealistic expectations above, it may be worth assessing your attitude towards life. It’s important to forgive yourself and others if a situation is less than perfect, it is an essential part of life.
On the flip side, having low expectations in life can also be detrimental to living well.
It will stop you pursuing your dreams or stepping outside of your comfort zone. And both of these are important to living a fulfilling and diverse life.
As with most things in life, the most important thing is finding balance. Aim high, but don’t let failure or disappointment hold you back or damage relationships around you.
By Ruth N.