Expectations and disappointment

Robert Johnston
Expectations and disappointment

How do you feel when things don't happen as you expected? Do you usually expect a lot from others? In mythology, Pygmalion had the determination not to fall in love with someone who was not perfect, by modeling a marble statue with a female figure that he considered ideal, he fell passionately in love with her, Aphrodite made his fervent wish come true ...

This is a beautiful myth, however in reality, perfection among human beings does not exist, expectations of this kind can “sculpt” false illusions or hopes. We all have our luminous parts, and also a part that can be improved, most of us have something that we would like to change.

Sometimes we can be very demanding with ourselves and with others, instead of accepting them with their “imperfect” and human way of being, each one has their own personal challenges, “what is optimal for a person, may not be so for another ”, this is a reality both physically, as well as on the cognitive and emotional level.

Many times we love and relate to the mental representation that we have built of the person and not to the person himself, with his defects and virtues. Disappointment, is the feeling of dissatisfaction that is generated when a person or in a situation does not fulfill what you expected, Brad Warner, gives us an interesting definition: “it is only the action of your brain to readjust to reality after discovering that things are not how you thought they were ".

What specifically was the straw that broke the camel's back? Sometimes disappointment is not caused by an attribution error or inappropriate behavior, simply by the false expectations that you build yourself regarding others, we expect people to behave in a certain way, especially when you feel that you have given your best of you, as there is no correlation between what is expected and someone's behavior, it can be assumed as an attribution error.


  • Types of expectations
  • Disappointment and satisfaction level
  • Social networks and need for attention
  • Resentment: poison for the body and mind
  • Emotional vampires
  • Walking towards healing
  • First step towards healing: Acceptance
  • Overcoming disappointment
  • Escape the need for control
  • 7 Tips to Overcome Disappointment
    • Links
    • Bibliographic reference

Types of expectations

Setting achievable expectations can help you face life's challenges with good spirits, determination, and you can more easily maintain an optimal level of motivation, in order to take actions aimed at achieving your goals. The “ideal” expectations may or may not be achievable, the literature establishes two types of expectation according to the ideal point attributes (Teas, 1993; Zeithaml et al., 1993):

  1. Classic ideal point expectations: those in which the ideal expected level is very high and due to various factors, the subject is currently not viable or achievable, it also happens when “trying a lot and trying little”.
  2. Achievable Ideal Point Expectations: The required and expected level is or may be achievable. (Clow et al., 1997).

According to another criterion, we can consider the following:

  1. Regulations: level with which a person considers they should perform their tasks, personal values ​​and culture intervene, they are very present in the academic and work environment.
  2. Fair or deserved: the person has the belief that others should behave in some specific way, they "expect" to be treated by others because they feel that they have done the same to deserve it, it has to do with the affective valuation of the relationship and the expected rewards.
  3. Predictive: it is the “mental calculation” that the person performs about what they expect from someone in a specific situation, it has cognitive variables that influence emotional aspects, the memory of the subject comes into play, the influence of third parties and personal evaluations.

When expectations are not viable, sometimes you can feel disappointed, however, the suffering comes from you, from what you expected that person to do or not do for you, because you behaved in a certain way in which you consider it "fair" However, each person is different and has their own rhythms, trying to control others or circumstances can lead to frustration. You may be expecting too much and it is that expectation that leads you to emotional suffering..

Disappointment and satisfaction level

What is an emotional dependent? When the person changes some aspects or makes modifications to adjust to what is expected of him in a way that compromises his principles, values, goals and dreams, when at the cost of his own well-being he tries to please others by "fitting in", we speak of a person with emotional dependence, their self-esteem may be so low that they have a great need for attention, but by maintaining such high expectations, they constantly find dissatisfaction in their interpersonal relationships, since they tend to "demand a lot from others".

Are you disappointed because you think you have done your best and anyway the relationship with that special someone became even more distant? Were there other attitudes or behaviors before this that bothered me? Disappointment indicates dissatisfaction and a difference between what happened and what happened. Yves-Alexandre Thalman says that "it is an emotion that is part of the great register of sadness and, therefore, is related to situations of loss, compared to a given ideal".

Social networks and need for attention

Social networks have facilitated communication between many people who appreciate each other and are physically far away, sometimes the affiliation can be perceived so close that it is beneficial, however, it is not convenient to wait for others to be attentive to your needs by this means at all hours, remember that most people have a life to live and it is not only in the networks, it is in their environment, social networks are only a channel or a medium.

Do not measure your worth and the appreciation that others have for you by the number of "likes" they give you, with the running of daily life sometimes it is difficult to coincide, however, it is not convenient for you to value or evaluate yourself or others for the number of likes they give you, it is a more convenient strategy to try to appreciate the quality time, the exchange of valuable content and the support that you once received from them.

Have you felt betrayed by someone simply because they didn't meet your expectations? It is common for there to be a cognitive bias to see the negative and an emotional contagion occurs, we can modify this for our own well-being, if instead of adopting a pessimistic view of things, you try to be content with those coincidences in time and space with a being That you love.

There are people who try to ignore their internal chaos, to soften their own mental noises they pay too much attention to what others are doing, many times they make very harsh judgments towards others, when this happens, the need to change certain things in your life may be hidden. aspects with which you are not comfortable.

It is when our most primitive and immature defense mechanisms come to the rescue, instead of working on the variables that are in your hands, if you concentrate on "seeing" in the other defects, you will be very unhappy. Our reality serves as a mirror, sometimes the behaviors that we criticize so much and do not support in others, are precisely those aspects with which we must work ourselves.

What do you expect from others? It is easier to express your own needs in an assertive way: clearly and concisely without hurting yourself or hurting because others did not fulfill what you expected of them. Remember that people are not possessions.

Gestalt prayer

"I am me
You are you
I am not in this world to meet your expectations
You are not in this world to fulfill mine.
You are you
I am me.
If at any time or at some point we meet
It will be wonderful
If not, it can not be helped.
Lacking in love to myself
When in the attempt to please you I betray myself.
Lacking in love to you
When I try to make you be the way I want
Instead of accepting you as you really are.
You are You and I am I. "
Fritz perls

Resentment: poison for the body and mind

Holding resentments and memories of pain can cause you to stagnate in bitterness and dissatisfaction, as they are like poison to the mind and body, bringing back memories of unfulfilled promises, the “feeling that you were abandoned” when you need it most. , is like trying to remove the plaque that helps heal wounds and protects the body so that it heals over time, if you constantly remove it, the wound will burst at the slightest provocation, either with the person who disappointed you or with others and leaving marks of pain in your being.

The antidote to the poison of resentment is to seek and become aware of our own motives and actions, to change those things that are in our hands. "You cannot modify your past but you can modify your present." Alan Fogel, professor of psychology at the University of Utah, says that when people feel emotional pain, the same regions in the brain are activated as when we have physical discomfort. Trying to control the actions of others instead of trying to self-regulate your own is a sure path to unhappiness and generates more memories of pain.

Emotional vampires

"Emotional vampires" exist. Would you let a vampire bleed you to death "so as not to disappoint him", because it is natural for him to be thirsty and because it is his nature to try to quench it? This happens with people who are very demanding, take into account their own needs and ignore those of others, consume valuable energy and time, show an urgent need for attention, due to their own internal deficiencies, seek love and comfort that they do not find in themselves.

They are those who manage to feel a little better when they discharge their poison and when they hurt and hurt others, for an "emotional vampire" all you can give will never be enough, their own dissatisfaction and voracity can be insatiable, often their dissatisfaction endures, so they tend to repeat those cognitive and behavioral patterns in other relationships.

The energy that you put into "him or her" is the same that you can use to carry out your projects and modify those aspects of your life over which you have control. Sometimes it is necessary to take physical or emotional distance, to allow ourselves that healing time.

Walking towards healing

The awareness of your own situation can lead you towards greater freedom, when fear and denial dominate your life it can cloud your judgment, people have cognitive biases, many of them do not allow us to move forward, however, sometimes the person can use this to punish and self-sabotage: "I always end up hurt when I give up my trust", this type of belief causes more avoidance behaviors to be generated, here is another example:

First step towards healing: Acceptance

When we leave denial behind and move into acceptance instead of waiting, we have fewer disappointments and more satisfactions. Accept that there are things that cannot be under your control because they do not depend on you. Do you often get offended or "feel" by the attitudes that others have towards you? this can be an indicator of emotional fragility.

Accepting that you feel disappointed and trying to identify the reasons can serve as a guide to adjust your goals, when someone in whom you put your love and your trust betrays you and therefore you decide to walk away, it is important that you take note and extract the best of that experience, sometimes it can be so much pain caused by disappointment, that it can become a truly transformative energy, we can take it as a life lesson.

When we have a wound on the skin, it is necessary to observe it, clean it and allow time and organismic wisdom to do their work, cultivating patience is necessary for this healing process to occur, constantly bringing memories of pain is a way to do more harm to yourself. and "prevents proper emotional healing", "time heals wounds" says popular wisdom, remember that "as it is inside, it is outside". If you are going through a very big disappointment, take your time to process what happened and to heal yourself..

Distracting yourself by doing activities that you enjoy doing can be a good adaptation mechanism, when you work with your process at the same time, when you use distraction to evade your own responsibility, the resentment could grow and the "wounds" will take longer to heal..

Did this person really offend you, or did you just feel offended because you expected them to act the way you wanted them to? It can be a good opportunity for you to value the expectations you place on others, perhaps you are expecting too much of them.

Overcoming disappointment

Developing patience and tolerance for frustration, instead of setting unrealistic expectations and "expecting" too much from others and situations over which you have no control, represents a great achievement..

Escape the need for control

No matter how organized you are, many times in life things do not happen as we planned, therefore, a good strategy considers a margin of error or even other alternative plans, this is more functional than the rumination of thoughts of anxiety and worry that they are not aimed at the real solution of the problems, it is better to take care of the things that you can do.

When you are disappointed, you can try to find culprits, such as circumstances or attribute the error to the other person, however, by not taking responsibility for yourself, you can adopt the position of victim, minimizing or nullifying your own power, that is why intrapersonal patience and with others, it is a master key in the process towards your well-being.

Have you contributed to someone being disappointed in you? Ask yourself: what did I do to make the other person feel disappointed in me? Identify your responsibility in the matter without falling into self-punishment, just to observe your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, but take note, because you may find aspects of yourself that you do not like so much ... The pain produced by the fracture or the wear and tear of an important relationship , perhaps it will serve as a motor to modify aspects of your person.

Pablo Neruda wondered "Does he who always waits suffer more than he who never waits for anyone?" When you have suffered a long time of suffering, where you sincerely feel that despite your wishes and efforts you cannot transcend resentment, frustration, feelings of guilt and the associated emotional discomfort, it is a sign that you require professional psychological assistance. By seeking help, you can “heal” your emotional wounds more easily and overcome disappointment..

Life and relationships involve a certain uncertainty, by letting go of the need for control, when we risk leaving our “rusty armor” loaded with primitive ego defenses and employing more adaptive coping strategies, we can walk more freely and have more social interactions. healthy.

7 Tips to Overcome Disappointment

  1. Expect less and thank more.
  2. Assertive communication.
  3. When faced with challenges, use adaptive coping strategies.
  4. Develops patience at the intrapersonal and interpersonal level.
  5. Strengthen your self esteem.
  6. Escape the need for control.
  7. Focus on your personal development.


  • https://www.lemonde.fr/m-perso/article/2016/06/30/accepter-la-deception-permet-d-ajuster-ses-attentes_4961271_4497916.html
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303983419_Diez_tipos_de_expectativas

Bibliographic reference

  • Finkelstein, H. The book of no love. Barcelona: Editions 29 Galerna.

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