Contributor Fred Sanderson – Expectations

Everyone has them, and everyone wants them to be met.  But what are they?  Wiktionary defines an expectation as “The prospect of the future; grounds upon which something excellent is expected to occur; prospect of anything good to come, especially of property or rank.”

This definition is from the perspective or point of view of the actor, for example, “many people will come to help with this project, and it will be a great success.”

There is another perspective or point of view that ought to be considered in order to ensure that one maintains balance in life whether confronted with good times or bad.  That perspective is best defined by the renowned psychologist Viktor E.  Frankyl, who developed his psychological viewpoint while he was a prisoner in several Nazi concentration camps.

In his book, “Man’s search for meaning,” he stated, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.  We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead, to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life, daily and hourly.  Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct.  Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems, and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

From this perspective, we can react to what life presents to us with dignity and integrity rather than bemoaning our circumstances as being unfair because they do not meet our expectations or seeing ourselves as victims of circumstances.  How does this relate to the example of people helping with a project? We have the liberating capability of meeting each of life’s challenges without any preconceptions of what should or should not be.  Thus, if someone fails to be present at an activity with which they agreed to help, we can focus on getting the job done without bemoaning the other’s lack of commitment, for life’s expectation of us is to get the job done, not to be frustrated with someone’s lack of responsibility which we cannot control. 

In conclusion, focusing on what life expects from us rather than on what we expect from life can reduce our level of frustration, and help to maintain a positive attitude as we confront various situations.  We can still hold others accountable for their actions, but we need not become frustrated when those expectations are not met.

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