We don’t often think about the realm between expectation and reality. Usually, people move through life believing and trusting that everyday expectations and big picture expectations will pan out.
Expectations can be what we make up in our minds about how something should be, how people should behave, how we want events to go, how we like things to work out, etc. How you envision something happening is an expectation. Expectations are normal. Expectations are conjured in our minds automatically as we move through our every day lives. Some expectations are simple and ordinary while others are much loftier. But what happens when reality meets our expectations? Is it always good?
In some moments, expectations can be realized, unfolding just the way we imagine them. However there are many times in everybody’s life when expectations do not unfold as they are imagined. Even with our best efforts, expectations can fail to become realized due to certain realities. Reality is made up of the things we do not control, circumstances we do not know, or we are simply unaware. Reality is everything that goes on around us, such as things going on in other peoples lives, other people’s expectations and needs, and the limits and limitations of anybody and everything. This means that we move through life with little control over whether or not our expectations can become a reality. Stress can often follow when expectations hit the reality wall!
The wall of reality can be so damaging for people, because of the pain that can sometimes come from what someone expects and what another is unable to do. How we respond to such moments and how we internalize or process these occurrences are important to understand. For example, as children we do not expect our parents to let us down or not give us what we need. And as spouses or significant others, we do not expect to be unloved or not have our needs met. However, the reality is that all healthy expectations with the best effort may still not be met because of limitations of others.
So when this happens, how do you respond? What kinds of thoughts run through your mind? The answers to these two questions are different for everyone. And the answers matter in that each of us is motivated and functionally different from one another. What helps one person change might not work for another. Finding your reasons can help provide an appropriate solution.
What we choose to do or how we behave in response to reality is unique to each of us. Either way, we are each responsible for our actions and our feelings when our expectations remain unmet. During critical times in your life, you will have life changing events. How do you respond when your expectations meet the reality wall?