Most of us have been in a situation where our expectations impact the whole experience, whether making them better or worse. Expectations are completely normal and they can be helpful and useful, but they can also be problematic and create anxiety. This is why I think that trying to manage expectations and being okay with the uncomfortable can help in managing the anxiety of the unknowns of life.
There are so many moments in our lives when things are unsure and we are uncertain about the outcome. This usually means that expectations are attached. Is it going to go worse than I want it to? Is someone going to react badly or well? Is the outcome going to be bad or good? All of these questions create an expectation that influence how we go into an unknown situation.
If you are someone like me putting expectations on unknowns generally causes anxiety. It is something scary and I usually end up thinking about the worst case scenario. Why do I do that?! It’s not helpful! It really is one of the least useful things I could do in any given situation, isn’t it? Some people believe that thinking of the worst case scenario will prepare them for it, but what if it never comes? What if that just makes it harder to enjoy the moment? On the flip side, expecting the best possible scenario can make you excited and look forward to the outcome, but can leave you disappointed if that best scenario doesn’t happen.
So, what are they options? Well, of course there are still the options to think the worst of the best of an uncertain situation or outcome. Those are perfectly valid lines of thought, but what I find the most useful is managing my expectations and doing my best not to have them. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? Not having any expectations, but it’s not as crazy as it might sound. I have been doing my best to not have expectations or at least try to be as neutral with them as possible for a little while and it is helpful. Instead of creating anxiety I go into more situations with a thought process of just being in the moment. It’s the thought process of “whatever happens, happens”.
This isn’t to say that I don’t plan for things. Being prepared is always helpful in different situations. It is more the idea that if I have a job interview I go into it thinking “I have a job interview and whether I get the job or not I will learn something from it”. This kind of thinking has allowed me to begin being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. When things are uncertain it’s easy to feel uncomfortable and to not enjoy the experience, but it’s not really helping to get through the uncertainty and benefit from it.
Managing expectations is simply realizing what your initial expectations are and evaluating them. Don’t let expectations pull you out of the moment and keep you from simply enjoying the experience. Practice being comfortable in uncomfortable moments, they are only uncomfortable because you allow them to be.