Why do expectations hurt?

Understanding the real game!

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

What are you expecting from this article? Let me guess – you are passively hoping for something that can help you get rid of constant disappointments or you are looking for a quick fix to manage your expectations. Right? This was highly expected. This is what we always do, whether it is any personal relationship or professional decision, the first thing that we do is, we start expecting. Throughout the day, expectations are at play.

You would probably have heard the adage that expectations hurt. But why does it? Why is expectations management an underrated leadership skill? Let’s delve deeper!

The expectation is neither a promise nor an argument. It is a conjecture based upon strong assumptions that what the future might hold. It embodies all vitalizing emotions and sentiments – motivation, hope, anticipation, trust, vulnerability, excitement etc. It can be low or high, it can be everything or nothing at all, it can be either light or dark. It is just like a sinking experience. Mastering at managing expectations is an art that everyone does not hone.

Let us talk about the role of expectations in our professional lives.

In the eagerness to attain the contract, we show our clients those stars that cannot be achieved. We rant so much about our services that they automatically start expecting something out of the world. But eventually, when the product/service is delivered, expectations get hurt. Why? Because we committed over and delivered under.

Expectations and relationship game? Let’s dig deeper!

We all have a well-rounded group of buddies who stay with us through thick and thin. That bunch of geeks include a loyal best friend (who knows our deepest and darkest secrets), a fearless adventurer (who pulls us out of our shell and teaches us to live our life), a wise mentor (who directs us to be better, always), an intellectual mate (with whom we share bookish knowledge) and few others. When it comes to getting into a relationship, the first thing that we do is we set up expectations. We expect that one person to be an all-rounder, in all these traits. But when he fails into one or two of these roles, we get disappointed. Again, EXPECTATIONS HURT!

So, where do we go wrong?

Whenever we set expectations it is either too high, or too low. It is either on top of the world or on the ground, overwhelmed or disappointed, optimism or pessimism. Both ways of setting expectations are dangerous.

People also say that ‘no expectations, no disappointments.” Do you agree? I don’t.

Expectations urge you to be a better person; it constantly keeps a person motivated to achieve his/her goals. No expectation means no purpose, no motivation and no hopes.

So, now the question arises? How to manage your expectations?

One simple word is the answer, ‘Be Realistic’. How? Try to focus on the below points.


Evaluate your expectation first. Is it reachable? Is it possible? Is it attainable? With unreachable and impractical expectations you can attain nothing, but disappointments.


Catastrophizing is important. Assume all worst case scenarios and what could be done if it happens. Sit with people and anticipate every possible outcome that can occur. 

Cope up plan:

Instead of wasting energy on daydreaming, put your attention towards making a cope up plan. Create these plans in advance and be mentally prepared that the coin can be flipped in both ways.


Be mentally prepared to see both sides of the picture. Tell your mind to be ready to see both extremes. Whatever the outcome would be, be brave enough to accept it. Acceptance is a trait that will help you to stay motivated onwards.

Expectations are nothing more than our own best guesses sculpted into theory. It can shackle us in two ways. If mismanaged, it can make our lives more difficult than ever. Whenever it is about managing personal or professional expectations, keep your approach realistic to avoid disappointments. Simple!

Now, it is your turn to understand the critical role of expectations in your life. It is your turn to get off your glasses of unrealistic expectations. It is your turn to decide whether you will manage your expectations or you will allow your expectations to manage your life. 

It is your turn!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Let go off these expectations... Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Why expectations are injurious to health?

by Dr. Betina Chandolia

Learn to Manage Overwhelm by Managing Expectations

by Brooke Davis

Why We Should Always Expect the Unexpected

by Diana Piemari Cereda

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.