Unrealistic Expectations

It is basic human nature to enter into a new relationship or an unfamiliar environment with certain anticipations and suppositions of how the conditions are going to be. Most people desire a scenario that is perfectly fitted to one’s liking, whether it be a personal relationship or a specific circumstance. Unfortunately, when those expectations are not met, it often results in unhappiness, discomfort, disappointment, becoming hypercritical, or even reacting with violence. The tendency is to blame, or accuse the others involved for the perceived failure. Rarely, if ever, does one recognize their own fault in the matter. It is seldom the case that we ask ourselves, “What is my part in this problem?” Perhaps, we fail to recognize that our expectations are not the same as the others involved, or that the circumstances in the scenario are not based upon reality. In other words, we had unrealistic expectations. The truth is, no relationship, or situation in life, is perfect. All personal relationships require effort, communication, and dedication from both sides.

All ideal situations are just that, ideal, not necessarily reality. “All of us hold unrealistic expectations” states clinical psychologist, Miranda Morris, Ph.D., “In fact, the biggest unrealistic expectation is that people shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations.” The issue of dealing with unrealistic expectations is a phenomenon that is affecting almost everyone in our society. This is because many of our unrealistic expectations are often conceived from impracticable sources, such as: movies and TV shows, music lyrics, video games, fictional literature, and other forms of entertainment, which convince us that those illusory types are what we deserve in a relationship. As a result, we burden those around us by placing unrealistic expectations upon them. There are also times when we can feel burdened by the unrealistic expectations that are placed upon us by others. In either case, it is not a healthy personality construct, nor is it a personality characteristic that a Christian should possess. Another clinical psychologist, Selena C. Snow, Ph.D., adds this, “Unrealistic expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure.”

I am certainly no professional counselor. However, I do know the Bible is true and reliable for all personality traits and we can simply base everything upon what the Bible teaches. It teaches that we have control over our personalities and we are capable of changing it (1 Corinthians 6:11). It teaches that we need to have compassion for one another (1 Peter 3:8), practice patience and long-suffering (1 Thessalonians 5:14), as well as be kind and gentle, without being quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24). Agape love (Hebrews 10:24) demands that we first give others the benefit of the doubt in difficult situations (Romans 14:13), that we communicate openly with our brethren (Matthew 5:23,24; Colossians 3:13; James 5:16), and that we “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing each another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). Unrealistic expectations is in direct opposition of, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:4). Having unrealistic expectations of someone else, ourselves, or a situation is not what God desires in us. It does not reflect Christ in our lives. After all, have you always fulfilled the expectations that God has for you? – TS