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People Don't Let Us Down, Expectations Do
By Ashleigh Beyer, Vapour BlogGirl
2/6/2014

Unmet expectations are one of the important experiences to avoid... altering what you expect can have a surprising impact.” 



In the top menu bar on vapourbeauty.com, “Our Blog” can be found under the drop-down “Learn;” how perfect. “Learning” is all I ever seem to do. Lately I’m learning about expectation.

In a close relationship I was not getting what I expected, and as a result, I was not able to receive what I was given. As I was beginning to catch-on to this unhelpful pattern that I was perpetuating, the same pattern emerged in another close relationship. Only this time, I was on the other end; no matter what I did or how much I gave, it was not being received. The other person felt deprived, because what I gave didn’t look like what they expected. It felt terrible. I was giving as much as I could and it seemed to not matter at all. I was grateful to experience the other side of the coin, and with gratitude, I worked to change my behavior.

Before all this fun learning, I could quote to you “people don’t let us down, expectations do” again and again, but I didn’t really get it until I experienced it.

The first step in changing behavior is awareness. Professor Wolfram Schultz at Cambridge University has studied the dopamine response in met and unmet expectations. According to Schultz, any cue from the environment that indicates you could get a reward triggers a dopamine response. If that expectation isn’t met, “dopamine levels fall steeply.” Interestingly, unexpected rewards release more dopamine than expected ones.

Having the “right” dopamine levels in your brain is extremely beneficial. Dr. David Rock  says we can create the right levels of dopamine by managing our expectations. He agrees that awareness is the first step, “Unmet expectations are one of the important experiences to avoid, as these generate a stronger threat response. Consciously altering what you expect can have a surprising impact.”  Dr. Rock has a great example of expectations around getting an upgrade for a long international flight: if you have high expectations you’ll get the upgrade, you’ll have a terrible flight if you don’t get the upgrade and be mildly pleased if you do. If you keep your expectations low, you’ll be thrilled if you do get the upgrade and okay if you don’t. Dr. Rock adds, “Keeping an even keel about potential pays off.” At the same time, Dr. Rock points out it is wise to choose to focus on things always getting a little bit better, even at times with evidence to the contrary, because that can help maintain good levels of dopamine.

I like what Vapour founder Krysia Boinis practices, and I’ll bet she has healthy dopamine levels too ,“I choose to cultivate beliefs and practices that support the outcome I desire while allowing space for results that may differ from my desire. Being open to other possibilities allows for the unexpected which may be beyond what we imagine possible and may be filled with magic.”

In this month of St. Valentine’s, I urge you to look at all of your expectations. Developing awareness around what we expect from ourselves and events is a great place to start. And look at what you expect from other people; my learning in this arena has reminded me that ALL love is a gift, or as Anne Wilson Schaef puts it, "Love cannot be created or manipulated. Love is a gift."




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On 2/18/2014 Ashleigh wrote:

Thanks so much for all of your wonderful comments everyone! Great question Merril regarding what causes expectations in the first place. I don't know! Past experience in some cases I guess? I wanted to write about this topic around Valentine's day because I do believe romantic comedies and pop culture are responsible for cultivating unrealistic expectations in lots of women. I love what Tia wrote. I think ego is a big part of this conversation. I like to check-in with myself often by asking "what does my ego think?" and then, "what does my spirit think?" usually my spirit doesn't care:)


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On 2/17/2014 Tia wrote:

Great reminders for this time of year! That being said I find myself asking how do we avoid setting ourselves up with expectations?
In my experience, my expectations are attached to my ego. My ego is pretty exclusively focused on me; ‘What do I want? What am I not getting? How do I get it? And, This is how!’
Unfortunately, my ego operates on this skewed perception that it knows best how to do pretty much anything better than anyone else. It’s a good ego. This is what egos are for, so that really isn’t the problem. The problem is when I allow myself to live in and perpetuate this false reality; when I allow my expectations to exceed what is real. This is when disappointment and conflict enters my life because the real and unreal do not tend to align cleanly…go figure!
So how do I get around it? I’ve found the best way out of ego is to think of others. When I catch myself getting upset because an expectation of mine hasn’t been met I ask myself what I’ve done for that person/employer/loved one/situation/cause lately? If the answer is not much, then I try redirecting myself into being of service to that person/employer/loved one/situation/cause. Doing so allows my attention to be directed away from self and outward into the universe. It becomes easier to minimize or completely do away with my own expectations because I am not focusing on them. My needs, my wants, my way, all get chipped down to a more manageable and appropriate size. Because my new focus is altruistic I also benefit from lots of good feeling things: being of service to others promotes healthy self-esteem and a deeper sense of connectedness, both things that human beings need more of for longevity and happiness. Ultimately, I don’t even care about what I did or didn’t get, because I’m already feeling pretty great about the positivity, love, and growth I influenced in someone else.
So it comes down to my favorite quote which is, “be the change you want to see.” I think if we all did more of that, we’d have much less to be disappointed about.
Thanks for the blog!




On 2/13/2014 ganga wrote:

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On 2/12/2014 Merrill wrote:

Great insights Ashleigh. What causes expectations in the first place?

Do you suppose cultivating a grateful heart for whatever unfolds in the now to increase dopamine?




On 2/12/2014 krysia wrote:

thank you Ahsleigh for another informative topic. I love that exceeding expectations creates healthy dopamine levels...something to play with and learn from.




   
 
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