20 November 2019

EXPECTATIONS Essay by Mariona


Essay by Mariona

When I was a kid I used to believe that when you expect something, it would happen. According to the psychologist Jean Piaget, children think that their thoughts or actions have a direct effect on the world. This is due to the fact that they do not differentiate the world around them and their subjective idea of it. For example, I used to think that if I was mad at someone, something bad would happen to him or her.  When we continue to grow up, we still receive stimuli that try to convince us that we can ‘control’ the world around us. I have heard a thousand times expressions like “if you are positive you will attract good things’’. It is difficult for us to accept that expecting something does not magically make it happen. Nevertheless, the expectations we had when we were young differ from the ones we currently have. The first type are what Piaget names ‘magical thinking’, the second ones are supported by good reasons to believe so, even probabilities. We can expect snow tomorrow, but we are not going to believe this expectation unless we have strong evidence for it. Otherwise, there would be disappointment.

I ask myself at this point: is our brain rational enough to avoid disappointments? If we rely on ‘magical thinking’ we are prone to get disappointed, as the probability that that event occurs is very low (or inexistent), and we do not have strong evidence that it will take place.  In my opinion, the answer is no. I have experienced many disappointments in my life: at a personal (friendships, i.e.), inner-self, academic and family levels. When I analyse each of them and try to find the origin of these, it is always me expecting too much of the different situations. Therefore, no, our brain does not have enough rationality to make us not believe some of the expectations we have and avoid disappointments. Maybe ‘magical thinking’ is not something that belongs to our first years alive, but we still turn to.

Expectations is a topic I talk about on a daily basis with the people around me. Through these past years I have realized that I have the same conversations with everyone: “I give too much to people, and they don’t respond the same way”, “I expected more of him/her”, “maybe I have too high standards, I should lower them”... These expectations appear in friendships or romantic relationships mostly. I assume this is due to the fact that we young people are more worried about these two aspects of our lives. Many times, I ask these people the same question: “have you told this person how you feel about it?”. Spoiler: the answer is usually no. The expectations we have of people is a deeper issue than expecting snow tomorrow. In the end, expectations are predictions. We predict a certain event because of different reasons: mere probabilities, because of how we acted ourselves, strong evidence, previous behaviours... But when dealing with other human beings, the variables are much more complex and changeable. Human interactions are normally what concern us the most because we are not able to predict them nor control them.  Another aspect to take into account, specifically about showing love or affection is subjectivism. We personally show love and affection in different ways. I learnt recently that there are different types of love language profiles: words of affection, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and receiving gifts. When we say, ‘I feel I give more than I receive in this relationship’ (relationship= any kind of human relationship), the problem might be that the two (or even more) people have two different profiles. Personally, I think we should keep in mind that each person has a different way to prove their feelings for someone. Maybe the solution for disappointments is not to lower our expectations, but rationalize them. Maybe the answer is simply communication, telling people what we expect from them. Most of the time we do not realize how people want us to act, how can we expect them to know how we want them to?

At this point, it seems like we went back to the “when you expect something, it will happen”. In the world of human interactions and expectations it is not as simple as communicating something and immediately seeing a change (or seeing a change at all). When communicating our wishes, the expectation is higher, thus the disappointment will be bigger. We enter a loop which we cannot escape.

In order to conclude my insights on expectations, I would like to quote Stephen Hawking: “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus”.


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