Maintaining your sobriety is your priority and there are many aspects of your daily life that you have to manage carefully to ensure you stay on course with your recovery. One area that you need to consider is expectations and how they can apply pressure to your thinking. To understand more about expectations and pressure, you may want to understand more about the power of expectations, get insights into how expectations impact your brain chemistry, and learn ways to effectively manage expectations.
We don’t often give much thought to our expectations. For example, when we turn a light switch on, we don’t even realize that we have an expectation that the light will be illuminated. In other cases, we are aware of the expectations we have of others. For example, if someone says they will call us, we expect that to happen. One of the most influential areas of expectations is those we have for ourselves. Regardless of where the expectation arises, how we manage those expectations is critical to how we view our experiences and pursue our goals.
In the post, “What Did You Expect? It Makes a Difference,” the author talks about research supported by David Rock, who is the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, which indicates that there is a physiological reason we are disappointed when life does not meet our expectations. When something positive happens such as an expectation being met, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in our brain and makes us feel good. Unfortunately, when our expectations are not met, not only do we feel disappointed but our brain also sends out a message of danger or threat.
Expectations and Pressure
In the post, “How the Power of Expectations Can Allow You to ‘Bend Reality’” the author suggests that we take some time and think about expectations and consider alternatives. By just blindly accepting that an expectation will occur, our minds bend reality and give us a sense of permanence and inevitability that the expectation will be met.
When we have expectations about ourselves, we often have to deal with a level of corresponding pressure. For example, if we expect to win a contest, we put pressure on ourselves to do so. That pressure can work for us or against us. When the pressure is motivating, it allows us to focus, work towards achieving our expectations, and evaluate potential obstacles. However, the pressure can also be overwhelming which clutters our brains with angst associated with failure.
Since the author believes that expectations can bend reality, he also suggests that you take the time to look at your expectations more closely. Determine if you have enough information to support that expectation, and then develop a realistic approach to meeting it.
There are some things you don’t have control over and there are some things you do have control over. When it comes to expectations, there are several things you can do to manage them more effectively as described in the post, “How to Perform Under Tremendous Pressure and Succeed Anyway.” While the post has focused on business-related pressure, the concepts apply to many aspects of life.
Perception is reality and if you perceive something to be intimidating or overwhelming, then it will be. As a result, you put yourself under pressure. However, if you look at pressure as an opportunity to learn, grow and challenge yourself, you will be in a better position to act effectively under pressure.
Understanding what is in your control and what is not is crucial in managing expectations. Often, expectations come as a result of a decision that you are making. Therefore, it makes sense to explore your decision-making process to be sure that you are getting all of the information that you need to make a good decision. Having made a good decision, your expectations are more realistic and less likely to make you feel undue pressure. Another aspect of control is that you can be in control. You can take back control by managing your responses to situations. Things are going to happen in your life over which you have no control, but you always have the power to control your response to those situations, so use that power.
Another cause of pressure from expectations is that you may seek perfection when perfection isn’t required. Perfectionism sets you up to fall short even if you succeed. Keeping a realistic view of what you can do allows you to enjoy the rewards of achieving something even if it is not perfect.
To create realistic expectations, you want to have a plan. This plan gives you the opportunity to look at the situation from a less emotional perspective. You can look for potential obstacles and plan work around strategies. You can look at the worst that can happen and plan how to respond to that potential. A plan is like a safety net as you move toward reaching your goals. It also allows you to focus on one task at a time, which greatly increases your chances of success.