Why do we have Expectations?

In Connection with our last post about The Wanting Mind

I love you, but …

Why not do it this way?

Forget about it!

I’m really disappointed that you ….

I can’t believe you did this.


All of the above expressions and more are familiar to most of us. We think of them as an integral part of our interactions and relationships. This is how a mother tells her child that she cares. It is how a sibling communicates his advice. We all do it.

This is not about what others say or do. It’s about what you expect of them. Do you catch yourself sometimes thinking about what others should or shouldn’t be doing? Do you have an expectation of how others should respond to you?

I used to think it’s part of our human nature—we can’t help ourselves. If we love people, we’re going to be critical of what they say or do. It’s only natural to expect certain feedback for what we say or do. These assumptions proved to be taxing both mentally and emotionally.

When I stopped to question my assumptions, I realized I was wrong. We always have a choice. We can choose not to have expectations and opinions.

Before we talk about the how to let’s explore why we do it.

Why do we have expectations and opinions of others?

The main three reasons that come to mind are below. Feel free to add more as you reflect on your experiences.

  1. We think other people think as we do.

If something is logical to us, then it should be logical to others. The same goes for expectations. If we expect a certain outcome, then others should be thinking the same thing.

We don’t only think about our expectations, we start developing emotions too. If we’re excited, we expect others to feel the same and if we’re bummed, they should be too.

It is hard for us to recognize this unless we stop and reflect—people think and react differently. Otherwise, we will all be carbon copies of each other.

This doesn’t negate our common interests and shared aspirations. Imagine each person’s thoughts and emotions to be a unique imprint like their fingerprints or the way they look—specifically theirs.

  1. We have ulterior motives.

As altruistic as our motivation may appear, we do harbor a desire for a certain outcome—one that gives us what we want or agrees with our stand.

Wanting to control the outcome raises expectations and paves the way for judgmental thoughts and opinions about others.

  1. Insecurity and fear of change

When we judge others, we’re usually judging something we don’t like about ourselves. When we seek feedback, it’s because we’re starved for validation and approval. And we react strongly when we don’t get what we need.

The protective part of our ego can trigger fears about change. If we see others doing something we’re afraid of trying, our automatic response might be that they shouldn’t be doing it. They’re the crazy ones, not us.

Aforementioned, We don’t want people to have expectations of us, but then we have expectations of everybody else. Just think about it what is important to you maybe it is not important for me. Introspect on your experiences of expectations to get better insight.


11 thoughts on “Why do we have Expectations?

  1. Great post, I think you have the right of it too. I noticed a long time ago that my own expectations of others were too high, and in part because my expectations for myself were even higher and completely ridiculous. I decided to toss the expectations for everyone else out the proverbial window, and cut myself some much needed slack. I have been happier for it ever since, and so is most everyone else I know lol. But I do run into problems with other people when their expectations and I don’t quite gel. Ulterior motives, I had not considered that one before. Insecurity and fear of change, sure. Good food for thought in any case.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our belief systems too play a role in our expectations I think.. from the time we are born we are programmed to have certain expectations.. from our parents.. our siblings.. our spouses… there is always a certain thing everyone are supposed to do… it takes a lot to reprogram this belief system …but once you latch on to it .. the going gets easy… first start with your own self… there is a certain way you expect yourself to be…programmed into you since childhood… format the disc with this programming and the shift begins 😄

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome…:-)
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  3. It requires conscious effort to not have expectations. Expectations comes naturally for anyone towards anything. Even for the shopkeeper you buy something from. So it’s more of mental training first. Takes time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That expectations you are showing is something of product and not of deep emotions, still that’s what this post aims that to explore the why of expectations and how is coming soon in next post. Stay tuned!


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