Realistic Expectations – Really?

A lot of discussion and arguments are around the question of whether or not your or their expectations are realistic. What a gigantic waste of time and energy! We’re close to eight billion people on the planet and we can probably find about the same amount of opinions about your specific expectation. Ask a parent of a 15-year-old first-born whether it’s realistic to expect him to throw his socks into the laundry basket every evening and they’ll say of course. Now, ask the same parent again when the last born reaches the age of 15 and you’ll get a different perspective. Then, ask a 15-year -old and they’ll look at you with that expression of utter non-comprehension.

So, let’s get that question out of the way once and for all:

Are your expectations realistic?

Yes, they are. All of them. It’s the discussion that is not realistic. Any expectation we ever have is realistic. Until it is not. We can expect anything. As one of the many possibilities of things happening in the world in our lives, we can expect anything. You may even expect the sun to slurp up our good old earth, because that will probably happen at some point. It may not happen tomorrow, if that’s your expectation, but until then you may as well keep it. Who are we to know what the universe is up to?

At the same time, every expectation turns unrealistic, the moment it does not happen. When we keep insisting that it should have happened, or it should happen when it does not, there is nothing realistic about that. We are fighting reality.

realistic expectationsEvery expectation is unrealistic when we consider it the *only* possibility for life to happen. There are a few exceptions to the best of my knowledge in regards to the physical laws of gravity, or electromagnetic forces, although even there, once you enter the realm of quantum physics you may be in for some surprises. Overall, though, those laws are pretty reliable expectations to have. We can usually safely assume that if you let go of an apple it will fall down and not up.



Other than that, and especially when we are talking about relationships and other people, there is no reason why we should ever think that what we expect is the only possibility for things to unfold.

Understanding reality

You see, realistic, according to the dictionary, either means

a) able to see things as they really are and to deal with them in a practical way


b) based on what is real rather than on what is wanted or hoped for : not impractical or visionary

Interestingly, one of the example Merriam-Webster gives is “realistic expectations.”

I don’t know how enlightened staff at Merriam-Webster is, but they did convey a deep, fantastic truth here: f realistic is based on what is real rather than on what is wanted, we can safely conclude that the only thing we can ever expect is precisely that, which is. Right now.

Confused? Stay tuned, more is to come.

See also:

Expectations 101

Should you lower your expectations?

Better not have any.



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