Unrealistic expectations about life will destroy you by setting you up for disappointment, wasting your time, and misleading you into failure.
The sooner you set your expectations straight the sooner you will start getting what you want out of your life.
The Difference Between Expectations and Standards
Letting go of unrealistic expectations doesn’t mean lowering your standards. Quite the opposite. Having high standards is not only fine but also necessary for a well-lived life.
Standard means a level of quality or attainment. An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. The first is an objective reality while the other is a subjective imagination.
Have high standards but realistic expectations.
Here are 10 unrealistic expectations about life that will destroy you unless you get rid of them:
1. People behave rationally
It’s a common fallacy to assume that people behave rationally. Human behavior is driven by emotion, not logic. Marketers, politicians and religious leaders have long been aware of this fact and they tailor their messages to appeal to people’s emotions.
If you expect humans to behave rationally you are up for a lifetime of disappointment and anger. Don’t be the guy who is frustrated that humans are irrational. Be like a marketer or a politician or a religious leader who understands and embraces the fact that people are emotionally driven. Profit from the irrationality of humans rather than getting frustrated by it.
2. Life should be fair
While most people acknowledge that life is unfair, they still find it hard to stomach the occasional injustice they inevitably encounter in their lives. They take refuge in beliefs such as karmic justice, reincarnation or the judgment day, hoping that divine justice will eventually be established.
When you understand and internalize the fact that life is unfair, you can extract the necessary lessons from the injustices that you encounter, sort out the ones that you can, and move on with your life rather than hoping for divine justice that may or may not take place in an indefinite future. If you are smart, you can even profit from the unfairness of life instead of complaining about it.
3. Someone will come out of nowhere and save you
Many people secretly and even subconsciously believe that a savior will come out of nowhere and save them from their misery. Many others believe that a particular politician or the ruling of a particular political party will solve their problems.
The harsh truth is that cemeteries are filled with people who lived in misery and died before their saviors arrived.
No one is coming to save you. Life is hard for everyone. Nobody cares about you and even if they cared they still can’t help you because they are struggling with their own problems in life. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you will start taking responsibility for your own life. The only person in the world who is capable of saving you is the person looking back at you in the mirror.
4. Disney type of romance exists in real life
Real life isn’t a movie where the nice guy gets the girl by putting her on a pedestal. She’s biologically hardwired to be attracted to a man, the value of whom she perceives to be higher than her. Pedestalizing her is a strategy that only works in movies but never works in real life because she will find it impossible to be attracted to a man who positions himself below her.
Romantic love is a fairly new invention in human history. Marriages have historically been more about business arrangements than love affairs. The contemporary romantics dreamed of a life where their supplication to women will be duly rewarded. The romantic fiction that they’ve written made its way into today’s romantic movies. Real life doesn’t work like that. She will not respect a man who rewards her for existing and she can’t be attracted to a man that she doesn’t respect.
It’s amazing how many modern men get frustrated when women fail to reward them for their sappy romantic behaviors. Stop making women a priority in your life and work on elevating your status instead. When you put yourself among the top men, women’s attraction will automatically follow.
5. Conflict is avoidable
Other people can’t read your mind and they will also constantly test your boundaries to see where you draw the line. Testing the boundaries of other people is what all humans subconsciously do because we are social animals and we instinctively need to establish hierarchies among the members of a group.
Trying to avoid conflict will result in other people to violate your boundaries, relegate you to the bottom of the hierarchy and render your life a living hell. Guard your boundaries and don’t avoid conflict when others attempt to cross them. They will respect you for it. If not, they can get out of your life. There’s no place in your life for people who don’t respect your boundaries.
6. You can receive value without offering value
We live in the age of entitlement where people believe that they are entitled to free stuff as if existing is an achievement.
In order to receive value, you must bring value to the table.
If you want a hot girlfriend you should mold yourself into an attractive man. If you want to make money you should produce something of value that other people are willing to pay for. If you want to get rich you should produce something of value that millions of other people are willing to pay for. If you want a rewarding social life you should work on building your social skills.
Nothing valuable comes for free. When you get something for free, you are losing something else without realizing it.
7. You can succeed without failing
We all hate failure since failure is painful and we are biologically wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Also, we all go through an education system which engraves in our brains that failure is something bad and shameful and should be avoided at all costs.
Real life doesn’t work like that. The path to success isn’t a smooth one. It’s filled with failures and detours. Your ability to persist in the face of painful failures and setbacks will be a keystone determinant of your success. Exceptionally successful people are rare because it goes against our biological wiring to seek failure instead of avoiding it.
Many people envy successful people, want to be like them but give up at the first sign of failure. The pain of failure is hard to endure but you have to understand that it’s impossible to succeed without failing. Keep persisting, extract valuable lessons from your failures, never give up and you’ll eventually succeed.
8. Everyone should like you
There’s no way to make everyone like you. No matter whether you are a winner or a loser, a nice person or an asshole, some people will still hate your guts.
Trying to make everyone like you is a hopeless pursuit that will cause you to compromise on your values. People pleasers find it hard to say “no” which is detrimental to their well-being.
Do what’s right for you without breaking the law and if some people hate you so be it.
9. It’s possible to live a life devoid of problems
It’s a common belief among ordinary people that being rich doesn’t make you happy. This age-old belief exists because the average person believes that a happy life equals a life devoid of problems. When he/she notices that the rich have their own set of problems in life, he/she concludes that being rich doesn’t make you happy.
The reality is that a life without problems is a utopia. It doesn’t exist. You will always have problems in life no matter how successful, rich, smart, or beautiful you are. While you can’t eliminate all your problems, you can minimize them.
Equating a happy life to a life devoid of problems causes people to give up on being rich before they even try. Why bother with working your ass off to be rich when being rich doesn’t make you happy? This is a dangerous mindset that leads to poverty, misery, nihilism, and piety.
Understand and internalize the fact that you will always have problems in life. The quality of your life will be directly proportional to your ability to solve your problems. Being rich is ironically about solving problems on a massive scale and money will solve most of your problems although it can’t make all your problems disappear completely.
10. The world should change to fit into your worldview
John Lennon’s Imagine is one of the most popular songs ever because it successfully represents the irrational belief of the average person that if everyone else agreed with his/her worldview the world would be a happier place.
Some people just sit and lament that their lives suck because the world isn’t the way that they imagine it to be and some others become devoted activists and waste their whole lives in the hopeless pursuit of changing the world and the minds of its inhabitants to fit into their worldview.
A better approach would be to accept the world as it is and mold yourself to fit into the realities of life. It’s much easier to adapt to the realities of the world than to change the whole world to adapt to yourself.
There’s no need to imagine all the people. Sort your life out first and everything else will fall into place.