It is commonplace to think that we should have expectations in life for we must look forward to greater and better things and plan a good life for ourselves. But wise sages say we should not have expectations in life for they alone bring misery. These expectations are therefore tricky things that make us strive higher with better goals and also make us miserable if they remain unfulfilled. There must be some golden rule for balancing them and keeping them in proportion. Psychologically as long as you have expectations from yourself you are on the right track and within your right. If you have expectations from others there is no guarantee of their fulfilment. There are good reasons for that. Most people would have simple expectations of looking forward to a good future with all material benefits and having good personal relationships. As long as they have the locus of control within themselves and set about satisfying their desires with their own efforts and perseverance they would be firmly set in the reality zone. The problem begins when they ‘expect’ others to fulfil their desires and dreams and ‘expect’ others to share their fantasies.
Ajay wants a good life with luxuries and a living standard that he is used to in his father’s home. Now he cannot afford the same life style but ‘expects’ in his mind that his father or his father-in-law fulfil his wishes by giving him gifts and money too! He has some pent-up anger which gets expressed at times against his parents and his in-laws and he is unaware of the origins of his emotions. He justifies his thinking in his head by rationalising it. ‘He deserves a better life and it is the duty of his parents to fulfil it’, goes his thought process. He does not realise that this is a fault line thought. A person with self-respect and with the proper sense would accept whatever his parents give with gratitude and take it on himself to satisfy his dreams and go about it systematically. So, the good expectations should weigh on the person’s own head and heart and not on the other. The internal locus of control is a good indicator of high emotional intelligence and hence mental balance.
Mrs. Veena cried that her life was miserable because of her in-laws who have not accepted her even after six years of marriage because she had a ‘choice marriage’ and her husband’s parents have severely opposed it. Even today they discriminate against her and do not involve her in functions and ceremonies and do not give her respect and due recognition. She went on about how they should treat her and how she is a good lady and has tried her best to be a good daughter-in-law. She over-exerts herself when she visits them by slogging in the kitchen by cooking for a large joint family of twenty members and then doing the dish cleaning too. She has a small one- year old baby in her arms and a backache to reckon with but she does all this to ‘please’ them in ‘expectation’ for a mutual reciprocation. In spite of explaining to her for an hour that ‘you cannot control others behaviour’ her mind refuses to accept the logic and the philosophy. She believes in the dictum that ‘one good turn deserves another’ or the belief that ‘if you are good to the other they will be good to you in return’. This belief is just that- a belief of yours and not a reality.
Anyway, human relationships do not follow any rule of life and is dynamic in nature- it keeps changing all the time. And ‘expectations’ from others is a killer in most relationships whether it is your friend, spouse,parents or in-laws. Expectations from others is a dangerous proposition and at most times a phantasy which has zero probability of being fulfilled. You would consider yourself lucky if a small percentage of your wishes gets fulfilled! Ideally you should go along with people and improvise your own side of the behaviour in terms of giving and receiving. Relationships are about give and take and if you feel unsatisfied in terms of ‘receiving’ and begin to feel exploited in terms of ‘giving’, change gears and change your behaviour but do not expect and cast aspersions.
‘A relationship cannot have any meaning if there are no expectations from each other and we should be able to take each other for granted to some extent’, said a wise wife. The key word here is ‘to some extent’. People who know how to proportion their expectations make for better balance in their relations. Being rigid and stuck up with your expectations make for a good recipe in unhappiness. Flexibility of perception and thought makes adaptability to the reality easier. Being aware that the other too has fixed and perhaps rigid ideas and beliefs that may be difficult to shake off easily makes one sensitive to the situation. Your expectations of the other is likely to be denied and shot down by the other who is also within their right of refusing and asserting their disapproval. Accepting the right of the other to refuse and assert themselves gives a better standing on reality. There are expectations on both sides and domination does not make for healthy and democratic relations. Therefore,making them proportionate to the circumstances is the best remedy.