Having expectations is a concept that we grasp at a very young age. Theoretically, they are just our strong hopes or beliefs that we wish can be achieved from a particular scenario.
Acceptance is a general agreement about something satisfactory or right. It is about our approach to reality.
Expectations are standards or marks that we set for ourselves or others. It is a combination of our needs and design, often not based on reality.
We reduce our gap between expectations and reality with acceptance thereby reducing conflict and increasing our satisfaction with life and our happiness.
We all have expectations from ourselves and others. Some are prominent, while others may not be so obvious. If you see a continuum, expectations and acceptance are on the two ends of it. If one exists, the other does not. Are they both capable of co-existence? Well, that depends on the intensity.
You can either support your partner for who they are and improve the relationship accordingly, or you can accept that you no longer want to continue the relationship because you accept who your partner is.
You accept that no matter what you do, they are not going to change, and the safest approach for you is to withdraw.
Expectations and acceptance both above a limit are harmful. Acceptance need not just be w.r.t others, but it can also be w.r.t your own self. Similarly, expectations are not just what we set for people around, but for ourselves as well. It’s something society thrives on, because it doesn’t always come from within, our environment has a major role to play in it too.
For example, you expect yourself to score really good marks, but can you accept yourself if you score slightly below the marks you desired?
Healthy expectations can be motivating and provide us with something to work towards, but problems arise when our expectations become too fixed or unrealistic.
Well, setting strict expectations can be harmful to others around you, and for yourself. It is necessary to create a balance of acceptance of your weaknesses and strengths and of others with what they bring out. Your expectations of others shouldn’t push them to drastically change their personal expectations.
Acceptance doesn't mean not confronting others' wrongdoings. But it's about being able to stand by someone at different points in their lives. Humans need to accept themselves first so that we can accept others. Applying this to our lives will automatically help in building a more inclusive society.
The beauty and bane of both acceptance and expectation is that they should never be left stagnant - the more you expect from yourself, under healthy limits, the greater the push is for you to achieve those expectations. Similarly, always understand that you have more to learn. This is why you should never accept your current self as your “best version” or rather settle for a version without room for growth.
Credits: Ms. Bhumika Jain
(Counselling psychologist and founder of Samvedna Well-being)
Aided by: Navya Srivastava and Ananya Bhasin