The Danger of Unrealistic Expectations

“Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.” – Author Unknown

Unrealistic expectations tend to be disconnected from reality in significant ways. Expectations are tricky because they have both affective/emotional content and cognitive content. In other words, how we feel and how we think.

Often, our emotions sprint ahead of our rationale. What one wishes and hopes for becomes what one expects. One awaits or looks out for what one wants, hopes, and imagines. This wishfulness, along with the imaginings, tends to smother the rational/cognitive dimension, resulting in unrealistic expectations. These unrealistic expectations are the ones that can generate huge resentments.

How can people avoid being trapped in this cycle of expectation-disappointment-resentment? We can look to the ancient philosopher Epictetus, who offers wise counsel on recognizing and respecting the line between what matters are up to us and those that are not.

Epictetus advises, “Do not seek to have events happen as you want then to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.”

Adopting this manner of living short-circuits the expectations-resentment loop and positions a person to appreciate what does happen.

Unrealistic expectations of the way it SHOULD be, prevent us from ever being happy with the way IT IS.

Published by Joshua McElhaney

Joshua McElhaney has served over 15 years in ministry, serving as both an Assistant Pastor for over a decade, and as lead Pastor. During his time in leadership, Joshua learned many valuable lessons about leading. Using his own experiences and the troves of Biblical treasures, McElhaney has created resources that will enlighten, empower, and enable leaders across the spectrum to lead the way God has called them to lead. Joshua married Karena, his college sweetheart, in June of 2007. Together they have three beautiful children; Mayli, Jaxson, and Asher.

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