Great Expectations

The book ‘Great Expectations’ was considered by many to be Dickens’ finest novel, tracing the growth of Pip who changed from a boy with shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. Whether that change for our own personal growth is what most of us hope for depends on what we value in our lives but, certainly, a lot of people have  expectations about their lives and how they’d like to live.

For some people, they say that they just want to be happy but what does that actually mean? If being happy means having a large house, a good standard of living, holidays abroad and a happy relationship that may well be attainable, but if it isn’t happening, disappointment can set in.

The expectations that I’ve mentioned are mostly about material things and, providing you have enough money, most of them should be attainable. However, happiness is sometimes elusive and means different things to different people.

‘Success’ is another expectation for a lot of us – in our western society, this usually means a well-paid job/profession and having visible signs that show that your well-paid. We no longer seem to value ‘success’ in the ways that people might have done years ago because we put a lot of emphasis on material things rather than the character a person is and what principles they hold.

Another expectation can be that we believe that the way we treat others will be the way they treat us in return. However, this doesn’t always happen, so if you enter into relationships with people don’t have the same values as you, it may feel as if you’re being taken advantage of or are being short-changed. In this particular case, it’s often better to find people who appreciate you for the person you are. Otherwise, you face the challenge of learning that not everyone wants to do that or thinks in the same way as you. That means accepting people for who they are and lower your expectations of them. Once you recognise that your own expectations won’t change people, the easier life will become. Try to surround yourself with people who accept and love you – that in itself is a route to happiness for a lot of people.

Meanwhile, whatever your expectations are, life sometimes throws a curve ball so try to remain positive even when things seem very hard. Disappointment is one of the hardest things to cope with but, despite many hardships, which may include ill-health, death or redundancy (sometimes all three), a lot of people do manage to remain positive and set themselves small goals to achieve on a regular basis. Goals are important for most of us – it may just be getting through the next hour or the next day, but if we’re struggling with anxiety or depression, that’s a big thing to achieve.

Part of this is also about judging yourself less and recognising that you’re doing your best. You’re allowed to be human and whether it’s about losing weight or gaining extra qualifications, give yourself a pat on the back sometimes to acknowledge what you ARE achieving, rather than what you haven’t yet managed.

So, having expectations isn’t necessarily a bad thing but acceptance of some things which come out of the blue can help enormously when life isn’t going exactly to plan.

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