How Your Expectations are Shaping Your World

How are your expectations shaping your world? We have all had experiences that have taught us something. Often, these lessons began in childhood and are reinforced time and time again. Then, as we get older, we start predicting the outcomes before they even happen.  This is because our brain naturally creates connections between events. We then take these connections and apply meaning to them (often with the help of others).

Sometimes these connections are helpful, such as understanding that jumping in water without knowing its depth, can be dangerous. Other times these connections are “power of suggestion” baggage.  For example, you expect someone is going to give you a hard time about returning something and there’s a good chance they will.  Could this be because you are putting off a defensive vibe that makes them want to challenge you? If you think kids these days are rude and without manners, you’re going to find that to be true more often than not. Is that actually true, or are you conveying disdain for this generation and they are just responding in kind?

The problem with this baggage of expectations is that you don’t just hide it away in a hall closet somewhere.  You hand those expectations out like candy on Halloween. For the recipient, it’s like getting a bruised Macintosh apple instead of that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup they really wanted. The world is a blank screen waiting for us to project our expectations, beliefs, ideas, and even baggage, onto it.  If you find that you are often attracting less than kind people, dig deep to discover if you have those expectations. You may be projecting onto others, which will influence your experiences.

This reminds me of a long-told story:

A man gets off a train in a foreign country and sees an old man sitting by the entrance of a village. The traveler says to the man, “Old man, I’ve traveled far and wide. I’m weary and tired. Can you tell me if the villagers here are kind and welcoming?”  The old man replies, “Tell me first what kind of people you’ve encountered thus far.”  The traveler says, “Oh, I’ve met the lowest of the low. People who are selfish and unkind and care only about themselves without regard to travelers like me.” The old man replies, “I’m sorry to say, but those are exactly the type of people you will find here in this village.” The traveler turned and went in another direction.

Days later, another traveler gets off a train and also approaches the old man and says, “Dear sir, I’ve traveled far and wide. I’m weary and tired. Can you tell me if the villagers here are kind and welcoming?” The old man replies, “Tell me first what kind of people you’ve encountered thus far.”  The traveler says, “Oh, I’ve met the kindest most helpful and generous people who are willing to sacrifice their own needs to assist a stranger such as me.” The old man replies, “I’m happy to say, those are exactly the type of people you will find here in this village.”

See what “baggage” can do? Perspective is so much more important than many of us realize. Now ask yourself, what kind of “traveler” you are. Think of how you would describe those in your personal and professional life. If you’re expecting the bad, you will likely find it. If you’re expecting the good, well, you’ll likely find that, too. Question your assumptions and look for the people who will light you up, and don’t forget that “someone” may be the one in the mirror. When you bring joy and kindness to others, you will attract similar people to your life. While this is easy when people are at their best, it’s more challenging, and more impactful, when they are at their worst, so use your patience, grace and kindness then.

Share something uplifting. What’s a positive expectation you usually have and find to be true more often than not? Share in the comments section.

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*This post was originally published in February 2016

Comments

  1. I like the story between the two travelers and an old man. It is easy to project things and see the world like how we expect it, but I have learned that instead of making assumptions and getting defensive, I see the world and people as they are, and I realize most people are kind and nice. Thanks for another insightful post.

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