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1 Dec 2016

Manage Your Expectations

It is no longer news that there is a downturn in the nation’s economy; rather, what is worrisome is the increase in the number of reported cases of suicide deaths in the country.

What would make people to take drastic steps to end their own lives? We may be able to point our fingers to the stress factor which often times leads to incredibly poor judgement from those affected.
For the Nigerian demographic which just a year ago were in an upbeat economy adjudged the largest in Africa, one of the fastest growing in the world, and one of the most preferred foreign direct investment (FDI) destinations; many are increasingly getting stressed out in recent times owing to the dire state of the economy as a result of the recession.

The recession has been characterized by a scarcity of foreign currency, high prices of commodities and staple foods, corporate downsizing, inability of employers to pay workers’ salaries, closure of industries owing to inability to source foreign currencies for raw materials procurement and relocation or partial closure of airlines owing to lingering scarcity of aviation fuel amongst many other challenges.

Surely, this generation may be the most educated generation in the history of mankind, but we are sadly the ones saddled with the most expectations. Unfortunately, we have found ourselves in a society full of keen competition and very cruel comparison, with no room to fail not to talk of a second chance; hence we never really do cut ourselves any slack and beat ourselves up at the slightest wind of a near-miss. In this society of presumed scarcity, we are constantly struggling as we’re constantly pitted against one another.
So yes, the struggle is real and the factors contributing to the stress are numerous and spans across various areas of our daily lives.

How do we avoid getting stressed out with all the numerous challenges staring us in the face? Some may opine that if you do not have expectations, you can never be disappointed and thus will avoid the stress, but can one actually live a life devoid of expectations? One of the great keys to living a life of happiness lies within the management of our expectations, expectations of other people and circumstances.

Expectation is that strong belief that something will happen. The belief may stem from religious faith, past experiences, absolute trust in our abilities or environmental factors including persons. Having expectations is akin to trying to make life as predictable as possible; essentially fighting against uncertainties. For ease of analysis, we may choose to view expectations in two categories- expectations we have of ourselves and expectations we have of other people.

We all have expectations in our lives: what we want out of life and who we want to become. We need to learn how to take responsibility for our own lives and our own decisions before we can expect others to do the same. An unfortunate pitfall of having very high expectations of ourselves in certain circumstances is that we prevent ourselves from enjoying the experience altogether. If you ever feel this way in your life, you need to readjust your expectations. Try to remain confident while maintaining positive aspirations; just remember not to make these aspirations so high that they are impractical or unreachable. We can learn to ensure the goals we set are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound).

One big challenge we face in life is learning to accept people for who they truly are. When you realize that your expectations cannot change people, the better off you will be. As humans, we have that tendency to expect of another individual, what we ourselves would normally do should we find ourselves in the same situation or circumstance. This is unrealistic as we are all unique beings. Should we be in a position to have expectations of another, then it should be based on their abilities of which we can only recognise through a commitment to knowing and understanding the person. Having realistic expectations of other people allows you to accept the flaws each person has. Unrealistic expectations will, can, and most often do lead to disappointment. When you have unrealistic notions for people, you place yourself at a high risk of getting disappointed and hurt. Isn’t it inherently unfair to place these people on such a pedestal? By maintaining an accurate awareness of your own realities, you become able to determine what is truly expected from others.

We should learn not to expect things out of situations but to go into them with an open mind. This will ensure you fully immerse yourself without the pressure of living up to preconceived notions. Expect what you can reach and be aware of the fact that sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Acceptance is an amazing trait that needs to be actively worked toward. When things do not work out the way we had planned, it is much more beneficial to realize that life could be unpredictable rather than becoming frustrated at the situation. Problems often times crystalize when we become obsessed with certain expectations which eventually fail to materialize.

In a nutshell, to manage your expectations better, learn not to base your life totally on other people’s expectations of you; remember you also have expectations of yourself. It is sometimes said that when hope is taken away from a man, there is nothing left to live for. Hence to keep going in life amidst all the disappointments, there is a need to keep hope alive; HOPE in this context being an acronym for Have Only Positive Expectations. Positive expectations here will refer to those expectations that edify your spirit, makes you want to learn more, do more, achieve more, become more, and give more. So, go ahead, love life, live life, do the unexpected, believe in the unbelievable, and achieve the unimaginable.

By Topaz Akins

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