What Do You Expect?

July 24, 2023

Sometimes our own thoughts surprise us. If someone asked you to describe your willingness to trust people, or your hopes for the future, how would you respond? Take a minute to think about that.  

You may be struck by how much of your description is based on what you’ve come to expect from people, and what you’ve already experienced in life. It is incredibly normal to expect what is familiar to us. That does not mean that our expectations are fair for the future, though, or even reasonable. That thought can be hard to swallow, especially for those of us who have experienced hurt, loss, or disappointment. Let’s think together about why this could be true.  

Whenever we experience anything in life, we learn something that can happen in the world. That’s not the same as learning something that will necessarily happen again. Did you know, for example, that being struck by lightning once does not make it more likely to get struck by lightning again? Sure, it’s possible, but not because it happened once before. Similarly, did you know that the past does not have to dictate the future–even if you’ve seen the same kind of terrible thing happen more than once? Did you know that one person’s kindness or cruelty does not fairly predict kindness or cruelty from any other person?  

When we consider our expectations, we usually find the most honest portrait of what we believe about ourselves, others, and God. We can see our deepest hopes and fears. Taking an honest look at our expectations can help us identify our need for control, might clarify what we really believe, or could even save us unnecessary suffering. So, what do you expect? What might be a more fair expectation? 

As you think about those questions, I hope you are both humble and gentle with yourself. We need to guard our thoughts so that we can stay aligned both to reality and to the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes we do not realize that we have let pain tell us how the future will be, and it can be scary to think about what it might be like to have hope again. Some people in your past may have been untrustworthy, so it might seem only reasonable to be suspicious of people who want to be close to you. On the flip side, positive expectations can be unfair as well, and have to be bound by reality and God’s word just as much. Not all good things that exist in the world are guaranteed to every person. Some things are out of our control. Do you think it is possible that you overgeneralized a lesson you picked up in a moment of hurt, anger, or happiness? We often suffer disappointments that are solely based on our own specific, imagined outcomes. 

The danger to unchecked expectations is more than simply confusing perspectives. We live into expectations, for better or worse. When we are in disagreements with loved ones, the way that we navigate conflict is almost totally determined by what we expect of conflict and what we expect of our loved ones. Those of us who expect functional, meaningful relationships practice behaviors that promote good connection. Those of us who expect rejection practice behaviors of self-protection and poor connection. We practice what we expect in our real lives, so it matters to be honest about what we think about the world, and to challenge the expectations that we do not want to keep.  

May you find truth, hope, and freedom as you consider your expectations and think prayerfully about which of them may need some adjusting.  

Michaela is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Richardson, Texas. She received a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Florida.

Michaela’s approach to counseling is systemic and collaborative. All of her work is from a spiritual perspective, and with a Christian foundation, because Michaela knows firsthand that belief is a powerful force towards wellness.

Located in our Richardson office


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