How Expectations and Projections are Ruining Your Life

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Think of someone who disappoints you. Who is someone that you try to help guide, but they just keep messing it up? Someone who you feel is capable of more but just won’t take the right actions. Some expectations might be huge, like projecting onto someone your perception that they should have mastered a particular skill by now or even something metaphysical, like that someone should be at a higher level of consciousness by now. But even if the expectation is as basic as expecting another person to be a “good friend” or a “decent person” or to have “common sense,” think of that person. 

See that person in front of you for a second. How do you feel? Is it tense? Is the vibe negative? Do you feel disappointed in what they do or who they are or who you think they should be? Feel into it.

This is a great imagination exercise because the person who disappoints you is outside of your consciousness. Notice how your imagination is required in order for you to generate feelings of disappointment (since outsiders have no direct access to your consciousness). If you catch your imagination in its tracks, you can avoid feeling disappointed so much.

But some expectations are fair enough. Some things are just “common sense,” right?

The Truth About Common Sense

We could talk about common sense and how subjective it is for days. But let’s at least address the fact that common sense differs from person to person. As I look back at people I’ve known, I notice that there were certain areas of life where they had more “common sense” than me. I see someone who takes an electronic item apart and puts it back together using their “common sense” and am baffled. That same person asks me how to put a good music track together, and I wonder why they don’t have the “common sense” to do that. And it’s only human to notice all the “common sense” that others don’t have, especially since I have my own version of what I consider obvious and “commonsensical.”

Know Your Enemy

Awareness is everything.

So who is the secret enemy lurking behind the scenes? What kind of game is the mischievous mind playing this time? Perhaps you’ll agree with me that one of the ego’s most annoying inventions is…

Expectation = “a belief that someone will or should achieve something.”

So, can some expectations can be reasonable? With the right people under the right circumstances, surely some basic expectations are fine. I’d like to argue that:

Expectations are never a good idea. Ever.

An expectation is a well-calculated shot in the foot. It’s not just a setup for disappointment, it already is a disappointment. We’re coming from a place of deficiency and/or lack, which means we’re off balance, trying to fill a hole. On a more concrete note, if we’re expecting something to happen, it hasn’t happened, which means we are insisting that reality conform to our decidedly well-formulated expectations—we’re kicking ourselves in the ass!

I Think, Therefore I Think

To understand another human being even on the most basic level would require me to be immersed in the other person’s consciousness. That is…if I really wanted to open up that can of worms—another person’s fantastic illusory notions of what reality really is.

But I have to be careful not to get caught in the ego trap of self-assurance. Just because I realize that others’ perceptions of reality are completely subjective doesn’t mean I get to rest on a bed of roses thinking that my perception of reality is any more objective—not even by a quark.

This is a profound realization, and it can make life a lot more fun and fulfilling. By simply accepting that my version of reality is completely subjective, I’m liberated to live life in any way that I want. And I won’t waste time creating expectations or trying to live up to others’.

The Inherent Flaw of Expectation

Since we don’t have consciousness sharing ability, (Spock hasn’t gotten here yet) we’re using our own subjectively developed sets of values, criteria, judgments, observations, perceptions, perspectives, and biological baselines to develop our expectations. Living up to another person’s expectations is a ridiculous aspiration.

Knowing this, the moment I feel disappointed in someone, I have failed myself. Because it would mean I have not applied the wisdom I’ve learned to my life. Or it would mean I’ve applied it to myself but not to others (double standard). This is a betrayal of my own consciousness, which can lead to low self respect—and more broadly—low self esteem. People across all spectrums do this and end up with cognitive dissonance that they can’t identify or sort out.

Get Those Thoughts Out  

The expectations that I have of myself and others may meld into one potent projection if I don’t let my thoughts out into the light. Gotta give those thoughts some sunshine. I must get them out of my head and onto a piece of paper. Give them the attention and awareness they desperately need. These expectations are causing tension in myself and others. I can let them come out of a musical instrument. Explore them in the midst of a deep meditation. Maybe just be silent, and watch them as they float.

However I do it, I take note of my thoughts and let them out because otherwise they will own me. I will be a slave to my thoughts if I allow them to go unexamined, and I will continue to repeat old behavioral patterns whether they serve me or not. I must question myself intelligently.


Imagine your life without disappointment. Imagine a life where human beings that are outside of your control (everyone) have no negative effect on your psyche. Imagine being completely independent of the good or bad behaviors of others. Can we change the way we use our imagination?

Let’s take a look at the root, not the first thing resembling a root that we see. At first glance, the root of our disappointment might seem like it’s something the other person is doing wrong. But have we done wrong? Have you done wrong? Have I done wrong?

Unquestionably, inevitably. Not just by others’ standards, but by my own.

So since we know that we do wrong, it would be hypocritical to condemn others for doing the same. We could condemn ourselves too, but I’m sure we can think of better things to do with our time. Note that the concept of “wrong” is subjectively defined based on one’s own values and principles; it’s not something we can objectively know. So this root ended up tracing straight back to the tree—back to where we started. Conclusion: Other people are not to blame for our experiences. We have the courage and responsibility to avoid victimizing ourselves. It’s a hallmark of maturity and development.

The more we judge and expect from others, the more we turn that gun around on ourselves. Sadly, we demand that we live up to whatever neurotic perfectionist model we’ve developed for how we should be. Fuck that, right?

Life is Too Short

We’re gonna die. Our time here should be fucking ecstatic. We can forgive everybody for everything, including ourselves for everything we’ve done. We can also get a better handle on our own development if we don’t spend mental energy creating, defying, and recycling egoistic expectations.

The key insight here, the fucking great news, is that we can decide how independent we want to be. Why should we put ourselves in situations where external factors can make us feel disappointed or throw us off track or even just slightly change our mood? We can let go of expectations.

Relief from that neurotic shit can really open doors. We can focus on being who we want to be and inspire others. Inspiration is free. It’s free of that irritating backlash that comes from expecting change. This is how we can instigate positive change in the purest way.

It’s the simplest idea: lead by example, and release expectations. See? It even sounds relaxing.