How Changing Your Expectations Can Change Your Life

Disappointed? How Changing Your Expectations About Other People Can Change Your Life

Here’s a practical, tried-and-true way to change your life in this area. I have uses this principal successfully in my own life and I have seen it work in the lives of countless others. There’s freedom in this principal.

What did you expect!

How many times have you said, “I’m so disappointed?” Or, “I thought they would at least (you fill in the blank).”

What did you expect? That just might be part of the problem.

Change your expectations… change your life. Is it really that easy? Well —it won’t change the situation, but it can sure help you to deal with disappointments in a healthier way.

Have you heard this before? ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ No excuses, or hoping they’ll change —stop dropping hints! Seriously —they won’t get it!

It’s unreasonable to expect something different, when time, and time again, you see the same behavior or attitude.

What we’re talking about here is disappointments in people, our extended relationships… friends, family etc. What we’re not talking about is intimate relationships that have ongoing issues, or the circumstances of life. This is about everyday situations that come up where we have expectations about people stepping up and doing something. Now that we have that straight—

Did you really expect your sister to remember your birthday when she’s forgotten it five years in a row? Do you really expect your dad to call you for once? Did you really expect your gabby friend to keep the secret you told her? How about the money you lent? —Expect to get it back when it’s never happened before? Do you really think ‘XYZ’ is going to grow up and take responsibility? Do you really expect that guy to call you? We could go on and on. Right here might be a good place to come up with a short list of your own. Do it 🙂

It can be hurtful and even frustrating when someone doesn’t come through for us like we think they should. We’re talking about a pattern of disappointments here, not an isolated incident.  

But isn’t it normal to be disappointed when people let you down? Yes, it is. It is normal to be disappointed.

So what can you do about it? You can complain, get mad —build walls of resentment. You may have already done that. How’s that working for you? Just a lucky guess—  not too well.

Here’s the thing. You can’t change other people. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and hoping for something different from someone who has a track-record of not meeting your hopes or expectations just sets you up for disappointment. Think about it. You already know the routine. 

What To Do about it? Change the way you think.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be disappointed, what we’re talking about, is what you can do about it. If you can’t change a situation, you can change the way you think about it, and you should.

Why You Should Drop Your Expectations? Because it’s how you protect yourself.

Disappointment stirs up all kinds of negative emotions that can be turned, not only outward at others, but inward. We may feel unimportant, unloved, unappreciated and disrespected. These feelings have tentacles that reach in and disrupt our mood. Our mood affects our overall sense of well-being, and also has an effect on those around us. Do you see where this is going? Nowhere good.


Recognizing other people’s typical behavior is the place to start. If you are always disappointed, then why continue to expect anything different?

  • Make a decision: Drop your expectations.

Don’t expect the birthday card, the phone call, the help etc. For example, if your sister sends you a card this year after forgetting the last five… it’s a bonus. Enjoy that. Stop expecting your dad to call you, if he does —bonus. Remind yourself if you want to talk to your dad, you can pick up the phone. Don’t make it more than it is. These are just simple examples. The disappointment you are dealing with may be more complex. Either way, a hurt is a hurt.

By the way… this is all assuming you’re expectations are reasonable. You may want to ask yourself that question. If not, then that’s a whole other conversation!

  • Say Something Or Keep Quiet.

You might wonder should I say something… should I make my feelings known. You certainly could do that. But before you do, ask yourself this question. Will it make any difference? Sometimes it will, and sometimes it makes no difference at all (and you have to realize then that they either don’t care, or they are incapable of the thoughtfulness it takes to change). If you have a gut-feeling that it’s not going to make any difference, maybe skip it. I have had personal experience both ways. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that they’re hurting you and talking about it is a good thing. Either way, don’t get drawn into the drama of it all.

  • Accept It. This is How It Is.

Accept the situation as it is. In doing this, you will be at peace with yourself and at peace with the person you are at issue with. Simply, accept that this is how they are. Quit judging, analyzing, complaining about them, (it makes no difference anyway and only gets you upset…don’t go there again!).

Accept them as they are. That’s it. Done. Anything more they give you, accept it graciously and consider it a bonus. From now on, you have no expectations.

What Can You Expect?

You can expect to have a normal balanced attitude. Where someone used to disappoint you, you will now notice with ‘mild observation’ that will have little, to no effect on you. If and when someone does exceed your lack of expectations… you will be pleased and accept this as a gift.

The best thing is that you are no longer a victim of emotions running wild. You are in control.


Sherry Van Dolder