Most of us have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the people in our lives, even if we’re not aware of it. In fact, psychologists argue that having unrealistically high expectations of the people closest to us, in some regards, is part and parcel of the human experience.
But this doesn’t mean that they are healthy, or that they should be propagated. Having unrealistically high expectations from others can start hurting you after a certain threshold is crossed.
They gnaw at relationships, ripping them apart, stop us from achieving our goals, and steer our lives in an unhealthy direction.
Expectations—And When They Become Unrealistic
Humans have a natural tendency to base their happiness on fulfilled expectations.There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, as long as the reasoning behind them is justified, and if we take the necessary actions on our part.
These expectations include knowing—based on experience—that there are certain things that cheer you up. For example, knowing that having something sweet after dinner makes you happy, and therefore,expecting the experience after dinner.
However, when expectations involve other people, things get a little more complex. While most of us are rational enough to know that expecting ice cream after dinner will not make it show up in the fridge magically, some people expect others to behave the way they want them to, without taking into account that it’s not always possible.
This isn’t a problem if the person on the other side is happy to oblige, but what happens if they have no interest in fulfilling that expectation? The situation could result in shock, displeasure and even resentment.
What Makes People Have Unrealistic Expectations?
Everyone wants to be happy. But as discussed earlier, people tend to base their happiness on others behaving the way we want them to.
This happens as a result of not being able to find or create the happiness that you’re looking for on your own. But happiness is not something you need to find—it is something you create. Which is why basing it on external factors that can’t be controlled will only end in disappointment.
One reason for not being able to create our own happiness is having unmet childhood needs that hinder proper emotional development, often resulting in the brain looking for alternate paths of fulfillment; for example, low self-esteem may result in attention seeking behaviors, and unrealistic expectations.
Fortunately, there is a way to satisfy your unmet needs in adult life. This technique is called reframing, and it works by assigning a new context to your needs,thus making it easier to meet them.
To try out reframing, you can easily download NIKU, an app available on both the Apple App Store and the Google PlayStore. This app functions as an online psychological counselor or a life coach, helping you look at life with a fresh, new perspective.