How to Deal with Expectations vs Reality Gap?

Expectations vs Reality

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. ” 

                                    – Alexander Pope. 

Many things don’t happen the way we want them to happen. Rain starts pouring down on your important outdoor meeting or event. A friend isn’t able to make it on one of your life’s most important days. Children start acting up when you desperately wish them to behave modestly. An important work event derails your family holiday. Life is full of mishaps and disappointments. Things sometimes fall apart, people act differently, people at times don’t show up, what could’ve happened just isn’t, it’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? But where does this hurt stems from? Expectations, our sweet expectations, someone has rightly said and I quote, expectations are the root of all miseries. 

Expectations vs Reality

There is a huge difference between our reality and our expectations. Expectations are nothing but our sincere beliefs, hopes, and dreams for situations and at times future. Expectations are never-ending. The reality, on the contrary, is the state of truth, it is the state of how things are and how they will unfold in accordance with our efforts, hard work. Reality is everything that can be seen as well as something that cannot be seen.

Here is about Expectations vs Reality:


Expectations are those things that are assumed to be probable to occur. As humans, we have a lot of hopes for the future. This is what we see as our future and our expectations for the future. When a person has very high expectations for himself, he is more likely to be disappointed if they are not met. For example, consider a student who has extremely high expectations. It will be difficult for an individual to achieve his goals if his expectations are far removed from the realities of his life.

People have expectations not only for themselves but also for those around them. Everyone has expectations of their friends and family. A parent, for example, may have very high expectations for his or her child. An employer can have expectations about his employee’s performance. Psychologists believe that our expectations are affected not just by our thoughts and actions, but also through our life experiences.


Reality is simply the state of things existing. This includes everything around us, such as our personal beliefs, attitudes, behavior, relationships, and so on. Unlike expectations, reality is the true state of our lives. We form our expectations based on our experiences.

How do you gush towards creating false expectations?

  1. When we have unrealistic expectations about how our lives should turn out 

2. When we compare our lives to those of others who have what we want, 

3. When we make a list of all the things others should do better if they truly loved us, 

4. When we can recite the ways in which things could or should have been different; 

5. When we find ourselves wishing for a different reality than the one we are living; 

6. When we find ourselves wishing for a different reality than the one we are living; 

7. When we find ourselves wishing for a different reality than the one we are living; 

8. When we begin to define ourselves and our lives in terms of the negatives 

9. We find ourselves allowing our wounds and shame to define our identity.

Also, read Everything You Need to Know About Philemaphobia: The Fear of Kissing

How to manage our expectations?

Don’t let your fantasies of a perfect life taint your reality. Select realistic expectations for how life should be. Expecting others to already know your thoughts and hopes and then being disappointed that they are “tuned in” to your needs is unrealistic. Maintain realistic expectations and choose to ask others for only what you require. When our life revolves around us, our expectations become more reasonable when we center our lives on God rather than attempting to center the world on our expectations.

Our expectations of ourselves, as well as the expectations placed on us, can motivate us to succeed. Self-expectations and expectations placed on us can be realistic or unrealistic, beneficial or detrimental. When we make our expectations explicit and realistic, they can serve as a foundation for dreams, ideas, and possibilities. They can nourish us, inspire us, and assist us in showing up in our lives.

If we hold ourselves or others to an unrealistic standard, we can learn to adjust our expectations. Expectations become problematic when they take us out of the present to focus solely on the future, or when they fill our heads with how things “should” be and feel, as well as how the people around us “should” act and feel. Our expectations of ourselves are reflected in our “shoulds,” which we believe we are not meeting. When we tell ourselves that we “should” be doing something, we reinforce the notion that we aren’t.

Here is How to manage expectations:

1. Allow Time for Yourself:

We want things when we want them, but this can lead to us being too hard on ourselves in terms of personal expectations. Ambition is a good thing in moderation, but expecting to achieve our goals immediately causes internal conflict. When setting goals and objectives, keep your own timeline in mind, and make sure you have a realistic plan to get there.

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. 

When our lives are ruled by personal expectations, every day can be a struggle. We are harshly critical of ourselves when we fail, and we are disappointed when we do not achieve our goals. Consider yourself an explorer on a journey through life, rather than someone whose path is predetermined by others. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, your overall expectation should be lowered.

3. Gratitude & Acceptance all the way.

Whenever you see yourself falling into the dark pits of high mounty expectations remember that you are at the right point in your life where everything that you have achieved and owned so far. Be it your education, your family, your friends, your romantic relationship, and your career, all are rightly aligned with your life wantings. You have to fill your heart with contentment and the more grateful and contented you’ll be, the less you’ll be expecting from life because you’d rather be beaming with the joy of having everything in your life. Enjoy the day you have today. Don’t confuse expectations with goals. Goals are fantastic, whereas expectations only make people feel bad.

4. Be flexible:

One thing to keep in mind about unrealistic expectations: they can be quite rigid. 

In reality, things can change quickly and without warning. These changes may open some doors while closing others. The more adaptable your goals are, the better they can accommodate life’s unpredictability.

5. You only have access to your own self:

When establishing an expectation, it can be helpful to first consider whether you have any control over the situation. 

Throughout history, people have attempted and failed to predict the whims of life. Similarly, expectations focused on what you want others to do frequently fall flat. 

For more realistic, attainable results, try focusing on what you can control — your own actions and choices.

6. Be in touch with your limits and boundaries.

Even if you have the best intentions and are willing to put in the most effort, you may not be able to improve every situation or meet every expectation. Effort can get you closer to your goals, but you may need additional resources that you don’t have, such as unlimited energy or more hours in the day. This does not make you a failure; rather, it distinguishes you as a human being with normal physical and emotional limitations. 

If you fail to meet a deadline, acknowledge that you did your best and offer yourself compassion rather than blame. Don’t forget to extend this compassion to others who fall short of your standards.

7. Be clear about what you want and what you need.

Although advice such as “dream big” or “reach for the stars” comes from a good place, it can lead to unrealistic expectations. You don’t have to abandon all of your goals, but it’s worth investigating what you really want from them. You never know, you might have already accomplished it.

8. Look back at your achievements.

When you’re frustrated with yourself for failing to meet unrealistic goals, take a closer look at what you’ve accomplished. Looking back on past achievements can help you keep things in perspective.

Read More, What to do if you feel “I Hate my body”

Accept yourself for who you are. We are all human. We do expect things at times, and it is not unnatural. However, be aware that expectations will lead to disappointment. When you are hurt, having this awareness will solve half of your problem. It elucidates the source of the pain. Expectations are a good thing to have. They provide you with goals, a sense of purpose, joy, and even something to look forward to, but you must understand that at times life happens, and it will continue to unravel the way it should be, so have healthy expectations and remember, it’s good to be alive.

I hope now you know all the things about the Expectations vs Reality gap and how to deal with it. You can expect from life but do keep an eye on the reality.

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Psychology, spirituality, emotional wellbeing. Mental health advocate blogger.

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