There are many things that can contribute to making people upset, frustrated, annoyed and overwhelmed. When these emotions are felt, if you continue to focus time and energy on the resulting feelings, then you can become quite ‘down in the dumps’ or even go into depression. There are so many articles now that are written as: ‘Ten Ways to be Happier’, ‘List of 8 Habits Successful People Do’ and although they have good advice I do not think these articles can actually help most people change their behaviors. There has to be an ‘aha’ moment in your mind, a connection with the information provided, to enable the information to be put into action. Therefore, I am going to make an attempt to explain useful information in a way that will enable you to have a deeper understanding. Understanding is much deeper than knowledge about a subject. Once you understand a concept, it is easier to put it into action in your life.
Beliefs = Expectations = Perceptions = Your Life
What you believe in is a group of (thoughts) beliefs that you have faith in and you are confident they are steadfast truths. Based on your beliefs you will naturally derive a set of expectations out of life and other people. Perception is how we interpret life and this is directly influenced by our beliefs. People tend to look for things to support their beliefs. Beliefs, expectations, and our perceptions are literally all simply thoughts that we continue to think. The most effective way to change your life is to build your skill in bringing awareness to these thoughts and ensuring your thoughts are serving you well. If you are overwhelmed, frustrated, and/or depressed – it has less to do with your circumstances than with what you are thinking about your circumstances.
We are habitual beings so everything we think and everything we do is based on something we think or do over and over again. These things become so ingrained in our being that it is a thought or an action done subconsciously. Your life consists of beliefs, expectations and a way of perceiving the world, and the people in it, as a set of subconscious patterns.
Patterns defined in the dictionary, in relation to this subject, is a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement; i.e. behavior patterns, thought patterns.
Obviously, it is simple to understand but extremely difficult to use this knowledge to ensure your life is full of peace, joy,and contentment. Life isn’t easy for anyone. Encouragingly, everyone has the opportunity to develop skills that will help them have more control over their thoughts.
One of the most influential thought patterns that sabotage our emotional wellbeing is expectations. A thought pattern is a habit of thinking in a particular way, using particular assumptions. And we all know what “they” say about assumptions. The definition of a habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. Therefore, most of our expectations are not consciously set in our minds, rather they occur in autopilot in our subconscious. Therefore, as an example, you may not even realize that you have an expectation for people to be on time when you arrange a meeting. If you arrange a meeting and someone is late, if you get upset, then you can be assured that you have an expectation of people being on time. Another example is if you have the expectation that everyone will treat you the way they would like to be treated. This is the most ingrained expectation and the most dangerous. Because not everyone treats people the way they would like to be treated; therefore, this one expectation is like a ticking time bomb. You can count on this one exploding at any time.
A useful exercise is to practice becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings. What beliefs do you have? Write them down. What expectations do you have? Write them down. Then evaluate each of these and determine if they are serving you well. Once you take the time to do this, you may be surprised at deep rooted beliefs you now know are incorrect and how many expectations you have that you didn’t even realize. Sometimes we become so absorbed in our ways of being or thinking that we don’t even realize it until we take the time to do some introspection.
If you take the time to intentionally and consciously think of the root cause of a negative emotion, only then can you do something to change it. You can determine if the way you are thinking is serving you well or if it is causing you unnecessary pain. If it is not useful then you can work on ways of changing your beliefs or perspectives so that they align to ways of thinking that will improve your wellbeing.
For most people, depression is the product of a hurtful way of interpreting and responding to life experiences. Depression involves an intricate set of projections about yourself, life, the universe, everything. By projection, I mean the way you interpret the meaning of something that is ambiguous or unclear. ~Michael D. Yapko
Since most expectations that you believe will not be met, this is an area that can greatly influence your ability to overcome disappointment in your life. If you eliminate your expectations about the way life should be and how other people should act or respond then you will greatly influence the quality of your life. If you put the effort into these exercises of introspection and strive to correct or modify the way you think, you will see a profound impact on the quality of your life.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. ~Albert Einstein