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Do you know how to manage your expectations and those of others?

"The best things in life are unexpected because we had no expectations." Eli Khamarov

We all have expectations of ourselves, of others, of consumer items or of situations. When these expectations are not met, it is possible to feel disappointed, sad or even discouraged. Understanding the factors that influence how we manage our expectations and those of others is an important step in freeing ourselves from these negative emotions.

Should we believe in magical thinking?

When we have expectations, we want them to come true! However, simply expecting something to happen is not enough to make our wish come true.

Jean Piaget, a leading child development psychologist, noted that young children have difficulty distinguishing between the subjective world they create in their heads and the objective world outside. According to his observations, children therefore sometimes believe that their thoughts can directly cause events (e.g., having angry thoughts about one's little brother can cause him to fall down the stairs). Piaget refers to this as "magical thinking" and says that we should all be past this type of thinking by the age of 7.

However, it turns out that many normal adults still engage in various forms of magical thinking. Prayer, in particular, can be seen as a way of calling for the fulfillment of an expectation without requiring any concrete action on the part of the individual. This is obviously not a way of managing expectations, since it totally disempowers the person.

How are expectations built?

To understand what role we can play in managing our expectations, it is important to know that expectations are gradually formed in the mind of each individual through the following process: expectations are developed from assumptions based on what we think we want or what others want, based on our upbringing or an idealized view of the world. Often these expectations drift away from reality and leave us feeling frustrated.

In this regard, the image we project of ourselves is already loaded with the expectations of others: it tries to meet those of our parents, family, teachers, friends, life partner, colleagues, etc. Needless to say, this can be a source of suffering when the very desire to conform to these expectations is at odds with our own aspirations.

In this sense, it is important to reflect on the impact that these expectations can have on us and on others.