Can’t recall what I was hoping for.  I just remember it didn’t happen, and how disappointed I felt.  And what my friend said about it.
“Expectations,” he told me, “are killers.”
What is an expectation, anyway?
It’s a demand we make on reality.  “Reality must be this way,” we tell ourselves, “or I’ll be unhappy.”
Which explains why we’re unhappy much of the time.
Human beings expect a level of control over life that we simply can’t have.  We want to control realities both external (people, places and things) and internal (our own thoughts, feelings and behavior).  Moment to moment we carry a picture in our minds of how we want things to be, and we constantly compare that picture to how things really are.
In other words,  we spend our lives looking for reasons to be disappointed.
And finding them.
Even when we’re not disappointed, we tend to skim over these moments of satisfaction and move on to the next expectation.
We do this millions of times over the course of a lifetime.  Like hamsters trying to outrun the hamster wheel.
Expectations also explain why, secretly, most of us feel inadequate.  We’re failures in our own minds, because we’re constantly trying to do the impossible – bend reality to our will.
And the problem with fighting reality is that reality always wins.
“I wonder,” Mark Twain wrote, “if God created man because he was disappointed with the monkey.”

3 responses to “Killers

  • Leslee

    Where do you think hope fits in?

    • Steve Hauptman

      Wonderful question.

      They may seem similar, but couldn’t be more different.

      Because where expectations are killers, hope is life-giving.

      Where expectation is demanding and controlling, hope is accepting and optimistic.

      Where expectation grows out of fear and anger, hope is rooted in faith.

      Where expectation reduces our ability to accept what comes (It must be this, and not that), hope makes us more flexible and accepting (If not today, maybe tomorrow).

      Hope is more spiritually mature than expectation. It knows reality won’t always be what we want it to be, but accepts that fact without resentment. It trusts that things will still be okay, even if okay doesn’t take the form we’d prefer.

      So where expectation narrows us, hope opens us up. And where expectation limits our ability to accept life on life’s terms, hope enables us face the future with confidence and courage.

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