We’ve all been there—
- the pit of self-doubt,
- disappointment, and
The funny thing is, they’re all fruits of the same tree: expectations.
One of the biggest downsides of our imaginative brains is that sometimes it dives so deep into forecasting and imagining the future, only to end up with empty hands and shattered dreams.
This is why I’m here to give you 11 golden tips on how to let go of expectations and live a life of happiness.
Let’s dive right into it.
Letting Go Of Expectations – 11 Effective Strategies
Let’s dive into the crux of it all! I’ll try and pour everything that I’ve gathered from my life experiences and inferences onto the plate for you.
#1: Set Achievable Goals
No one should say that expectations can be dispensed with completely. After all, the goals that you have are nothing but your expectations of yourself. But you need to understand that you can only do so much.
Ask yourself – “Am I getting a little too ahead of myself on this?”
I would never recommend you to block all the expectations that your mind forms. Instead, focus on nurturing pragmatic ones. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is highly important to keep your progress in perspective.
However, slow down if your expectations are something like going from broke to a millionaire within a month (or even a year).
#2: Express Gratitude For What You Have
Yes! It is true that in the pursuit of your unrealistic expectations, you may end up nowhere close to them. But you will end up somewhere! Feel grateful for what you have – people, achievements, anything that you value.
Just as you would tilt, move, or shift your camera for that one perfect picture, shift your focus to the good stuff. No matter how mammoth a situation seems to be, there will always be a reason for thankfulness.
Here’s what I recommend – look at the people around you. And really look! There are tons of people out there who are not even half as fortunate you are.
#3: Control Your Expectations Of Others
We expect certain things from ourselves and we expect certain things from the people around us. And then we expect to realize both these expectation categories – it’s not going to happen!
No one’s perfect – not your mom, dad, friends, or even your lover. I know it might sound bitter but the truth never sells in sweet shops.
Every one of us is made of the same elements yet there’s so much that makes us unique. Instead of frowning upon why a certain close friend didn’t react or do what you expected him to, you should embrace the differences.
You take some, you give some. Surely, you’ll not deny that you’ve learned a lot from the “different” people you’ve met. Imagine if they’d be the same as you, how boring and unproductive would it be!
Leave the people around you free of your chain of unfair expectations and watch how peaceful your connection with them gets.
#4: Do Not Fear Change
Expectations program our minds to be prepared and accepting of a certain predetermined outcome. And when things don’t go as planned (or “as thought” in this case), we turn sour on the things that actually happen.
Amid our insecurity towards change, we fail to gauge the viability of those results. Just because we’ve surrendered our thought process to feel happy only in a certain outcome, it doesn’t mean that the other outcomes are detrimental.
Whatever happens, happens for the best. Move with this thought in mind and you’ll never find yourself clinging to a rigid expectation of yours. Instead, you’ll be all-welcoming of the things that unfurl.
#5: Let Go Of Grudges – Forgive
One of the truest sayings is Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself!
When you hold onto a certain mishap of the past (how someone didn’t perform up to your expectations) you’ll often find yourself thinking of what expectations you had of them in the first place.
If you want to let go of your expectations for the future, you also need to look back and say goodbye to all the unrealistic expectations you carried in the past.
The next step is to forgive all those people (maybe it includes yourself too) for what they did or didn’t do and start fresh.
#6: Respond To What Happens
If you’re someone who’s struggling to strike the right balance between overwhelming and underwhelming expectations, I have a golden tip for you: focus on your reactive and adaptive abilities.
Take them as they come. Instead of expecting life to take a certain turn, let that turn come to you, then react and adapt appropriately.
However, do not misconstrue my words and think of it as living life on the edge. Rash and hasty decisions should be avoided.
#7: Have A Plan B
I’ve emphasized this earlier. It’s vital to have certain pragmatic expectations or goals in life. Having a plan B is a sign that you’re not too fanatical about your expectations and you’re aware that things may not turn out how you want them to.
Plan B also helps you move on with ease if the results don’t bear the desired fruits for you.
There’s opportunity in adversity. Plan B will help you quit whining about what you didn’t get and keep you focused on the actions that will help you make the most out of the situation.
#8: Develop Self-awareness
Age-old habits don’t change in a day, nor will your habit to birth expectations. It’s been fed into your subconscious. It’s like a DVD player in your mind that’s been left on loop. The worst part? You don’t even realize it’s there!
Be aware of your thoughts at every point. This will take practice. Write down your thoughts if need be but the key is to analyze them. Separate any harmful expectations at their budding stage and they won’t bother you later.
#9: Practice Mindfulness
Drawing from our previous point, mindfulness is the other side of the coin. It essentially means being in the moment!
How do you achieve the art of acceptance & mindfulness? Mindfulness meditation.
No, meditation is not just sitting cross-legged on a fancy yoga mat with your eyes closed in an attempt to block all your negative thoughts. Instead, it involves letting your thoughts come to you, acknowledging them, and getting a sense of closure from them.
#10: Practice Acceptance
It’s a bad idea to bombard yourself (or anyone else) with negative emotions at the failure of an expectation. The reality is that you will face situations that are beyond your control, you will feel disheartened, but all you can do in such circumstances is put your head down and move forward.
Do not confuse acceptance with defeat. A shrug of the shoulders doesn’t mean you’ve lost a battle. It only means that you’re smart enough to not let it affect your sanity.
#11: Quit It Like Any Other Bad Habit
Why do people quit smoking? It’s not because they suddenly don’t find it liberating enough, but because they know the harm it is doing to them. Think of your expectations the same way!
The euphoria is tempting enough, but pay attention to what it’s doing to you, your mind, body, and your relationships.
Are you at mental peace with all that baggage of expectations? Is it tough to find the good in people around you?
Ask these questions to yourself. You will likely see the need to quit the expectations habit.
Common Questions About How to Let Go of Expectations
Having learned my 11 tips for letting go of expectations, it’s time to take a look at some of the most popular questions around this topic.
Why Should You Let Go Of Expectations?
To answer this question, think of all the harm expectations can cause.
Firstly, you feel the gush of resentment, anger, disappointment, and self-doubt, all of which are deterrents to a happy and positive life.
Secondly, dwelling too much on what others expect from us can impact our belief and decision-making system. Are you doing what you’re doing because you want to do it or because people expect it from you?
Thirdly, there are noticeable health effects too. Unfulfilled expectations, resentment, and anger can increase stress. And the negative physical and mental health effects of stress have long been documented.
How Do You Let Go Of Things That Are Out Of Your Control?
If you were in control of everything, you’d have a very narrow perspective. You might be dead sure of what results you want, but it doesn’t mean that result is the best for you. The universe knows better!
Learn the Art of Surrender. Resist the resistance that you have within to go against the natural flow of things, the universe, and destiny.
Adapt to circumstances, believe in a higher power, and move in faith that everything is part of a bigger plan.
How Do You Let Go Of Expectations In Relationships?
Come to grasp with the fact that your partner does not exist to abide by your expectations, that your happiness is your responsibility. A relationship is a vehicle with two steering wheels—two people come together to share a journey.
Allow your partner to be expressive. Do not burden them with what you want, and do not be burdened by what they expect from you. Instead of dwelling on your failed expectations, be on the lookout for how your partner reacts to a certain situation – know them better!
What Will You Do To Let Go of Your Unrealistic Expectations?
I’ve offered my 11 strategies for letting go of expectations. But the list is by no means exhaustive. Is there anything you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!