Expectations and Outcomes

There are times when a client will say “I am just not going to have any expectations, then I won’t get hurt.” And although this may sound like a good intention, I am not entirely sure it is the healthiest option.

Expectations are tied to eternal hope. When we set out to challenge ourselves or achieve something to better our circumstances, we do so with hope. We desire to see a change and trust it will happen – this is an important part of our planning process and one that is essential for movement forward.

It is not our attachment to the expectation that creates the issue, it is our tie to the outcome. When we move from expectation to outcome we do so with eternal hope; we place just as much (if not more) emphasis on the outcome than we do on the expectation. Unfortunately, we can’t always predict the outcome and it tends to often not be in our control.

Let’s say we put a boundary into place with a loved one. We desire the relationship to be healthier and moving from the position of ‘I am important and so are you,’ we bravely yet calmly tell them how we are feeling and how we are going to move forward from now on. As we are building up to putting the boundary into place we tie the expectation to outcome – we expect that once we have gone through the hard work of standing up for ourselves, our loved one will instantly understand and begin acting in a different, healthier way as well.

And if it doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged and think to ourselves “See, what is the point? I tried and it didn’t seem to change anything.” The reality is, is that it does matter. The outcome is about what you can control – and in that moment, you stood up for yourself. You will become consistent with the new boundary and eventually your loved one will understand that they don’t have as much control over you as they used to. They will feel the shift in your courage and determined stance.

When we move from an internal place we begin to realize that it is important to reward the effort and not the outcome; our expectation shifts from what we can’t control to what we can control and as a result we build our strength and resilience along the way.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@josmor

2 thoughts on “Expectations and Outcomes”

  1. I think I understand but it is frustrating. As an educator you have expectations for your student. I can control my expectations but not that the child will accomplish my expectations.
    I had a counsellor tell me that I shouldn’t have any expectations and then I won’t be disappointed. It made no sense and made me angry since expectations are part of relationships. A marriage vow is an expectation.

    • I certainly agree that having no expectations is very difficult and really not a part of human nature. I guess it boils down to the expectations that you have, and how to respond if those expectations are not being met. We can never change another person, and sometimes we spend a lot of time wishing, hoping, and trying to get them to change, or to meet our expectations (even if they are implicit, like a marriage vow.) Sometimes the focus then must shift to rewarding the outcome for a boundary or agreement that we must create in order to change our respond to the expectation not being met.


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