Great Expectations

Uptight, irritable, angry? What has it go to do with Charles Dickens?

Charles Dickens wrote his 13th novel Great Expectations in 1861. But why could that be linked to people who are constantly uptight and irritable?old book

What are you irritated about?

Expectations are tricky. Our lives are built on them. Subconsciously at least, expectations are often the first thing you set and the last thing you think about. If you really stop and think about it, the core of many of your frustrations, much of your irritability, is likely to be based on the expectations that you have formed in your head – what other people ‘should’ do, what our lives ‘should’ be like, how other drivers ‘should behave’. As a result, something has happened that is different from your expectations – you wanted something to be a certain way, but it isn’t – someone is late, we expected the store to still be open at 5.30pm, an appointment gets cancelled, the doctor should be able to see you today … and yet it’s all fantasy. It’s not real.

Nothing changes
As a result; you have now become annoyed or angry, and maybe irritable for the rest of the day, perhaps taking it out on every person who crosses your path. Your irritability, your annoyance, your anger, changes nothing about the situation – the person who cut you up in traffic probably doesn’t even realise! Your gestures, your anger does nothing to them, but it does plenty to you. And let’s just be really silly for a moment and let’s assume that the person who cancelled the appointment really wanted to spoil your day, really wanted to upset you – well then, you are playing right into their hands, giving them the exact reaction that they expected – you have become totally under their control .. how does that make you feel?

Let me give you a day off

Our expectations can motivate us toward achievement and the attainment of goals, but when those expectations are outside of our control, and we react to them, then they become a source of great stress and unhappiness. Try this as a mini experiment; tomorrow, spend the day with no expectations at all – expect nothing, don’t expect the train to be on-time, don’t expect people to behave in a certain way, don’t expect things to turn out a certain way – a whole day free of Charles Dickens and his ‘Great Expectations’.  Just spend the day accepting reality as it is, without expectations, just seeing things as they are. Most of the stuff that we have expectations about are, in the great scheme of things, actually small stuff – the world will continue spinning, life will go on regardless.

That’s not to say you never act — but you act on the things that are under your control. And other people, are not under your control. If you think they are, well, I am sorry to tell you this – you are wrong, they never were, never have been and never will be, no matter what your title, status or position is.

So, tomorrow really can be a day where you don’t need to be disappointed, frustrated or angry — or if you are, you accept it, and then let it go. Give it a try – maybe .. just maybe, you will feel calmer and less uptight, because your expectations simply cannot be broken … and, as a bonus, you can appreciate all those things that do go well!.

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