Excuse me, were you expecting a post? That’s an expectation right there. You have been caught!
Not so long ago, an incident (amongst many others) made me quite angry. This one involved dealing with some strangers’ rudeness. However, finding out the reason behind my anger bothered me the most. If you have ever been prone to anger (being the one exhibiting dragon-like tendencies instead of the one being burnt), you may have wondered what actually causes the anger in you too. After years of having short spurts of anger, it is only very recently, since Swami’s post on the eight stages of anger, that I gained a deeper understanding of the matter. The not-so-little pyramid, beautifully designed by Swami is an absolute go-to when we are helplessly dealing with anger.
After analysing many incidents of frustration, anger, self-doubt and even guilt, it really occurred to me that the root cause of our grief is usually due to our unfulfilled expectations. In fact, although having expectations in the first place may also be an issue, I understand that it is unrealistic to thrive for a world without expectations. However, from my own experience, I found it great relief in reducing my expectations.
For instance, I realised that our agitation from being ‘stuck’ behind an extremely slow car, is really not the slow driver’s fault. In reality, we head out, expecting the whole world to dance to our tune. It is a subtle, unwritten expectation that the road must be clear. No snails, cars or people shall dare cross our paths, and all traffic lights shall be green when his/her majesty graces the roads with his/her presence. Just kidding. But you see what I mean. Our expectations for something as simple as a clear road, quickly takes a back seat, leading us to feel angry at every little hurdle on our way. Had we left earlier, none of the snails would have mattered.
But this also leads us to something else; we often expect too much from ourselves. Drowned under a mountain of unrealistic expectations, we erroneously believe ourselves to be perfect and incessantly pile up several things onto our to-do lists, only to disappoint ourselves. Isn’t this one of the reasons why we feel stressed, run late or are unable to cope with the demands of others? Expectations from the self, though can be reduced through an honest analysis of our goals, circumstances and non-negotiable principles.
Expectations from others also have the ability to drain us tremendously. Relationships, including friendships, often start off very lightly whereby both parties are quite detached from each other, probably because expectations have not kicked in yet. As time goes by and things take off on a good start, we automatically start expecting the other person to remain or be a certain way.
Even lashing out about the dirty dishes is a sign of unfulfilled expectations, because somehow we expected that someone ought to do the dishes for us. Most expectations are usually very subtle, and sometimes small expectations can lead to frustration. Some of us expect to constantly be loved whilst others expect kindness from strangers or sales people, but when these remain unfulfilled, they only lead to further frustrations or clashes.
All in all, every time I am faced with anger, frustration or some other alien emotions, I find it quite useful to delve deep into them with utmost honesty. From such contemplation, it is quite easy to have a good laugh as we realise that really, nobody’s at fault, we are just breathing, living humans making up expectations and being frustrated because our own expectations were not fulfilled. Although, it does take some time to detach ourselves from our emotions, take a step back and analyse the situation, after a few attempts, it does become quite fun to detect our expectations. Then a sense of calm prevails, after the flames of anger have been extinguished of course.
Try it out, you may have a good laugh:)