Expectations

EXPECTATIONS

Hello, I’m Dr. Robert Hernandez. Let me take a moment to talk about Expectations. Depression, anxiety and fear result from Expectations! Expectation is a learned behavior. The reason for anxiety, depression or fear isn’t always clear except these are the emotions that are derived from Expectations. Expectations = depression, anxiety or fear. The perpetrator of these emotions is almost always Expectations.

I have a young professor in my practice who was preparing to submit and defend her thesis for her PhD. As her luck and her life would have it, she never made anything less than “A” in any course working up to her PhD. But as the time approached for her to write and defend her thesis, the PhD professor who was supervising her candidacy for her PhD told her that her delay was going to cost her to fail to meet the deadline for her thesis application and its defense. This caused her a catastrophic, life altering depression. Her expectation was to have her PhD by a certain period of time and with all A’s. The simple notion of her not making that timeline because of the expectation she set for herself sent her in to a life tailspin in which she almost did not recover.

Expectation is a learned phenomenon. We generally will learn expectation from our rearing parents. Mom and/or dad, and and/or uncle, grandpa and/or grandma. Those individuals or groups of individuals tend to have a high standard for themselves and hence they teach this rigid and unforgiving feature called expectation on their children.

Common examples of those individuals who have high standards for themselves would include but is not limited to: doctors, lawyers, police officers or other law enforcement, members of the military and religious leaders. Please bear in mind that the only way that these groups of individuals can succeed in their collective careers is to be the best at what they do. Being best at what you do is not the problem. Asking for perfection is the problem.

So perfection and expectation are married. They go hand-in-hand and are inseparable. And at this point I hope the reader can begin to see where the problem really lies. Nobody is perfect.

Probably one of the most damning things I’ve ever heard in my life and had a hard time ever understanding was the statement: “I want 110% from you or you cannot participate on my team!!” So I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me: how to use it 10 ounces of water in an 8 ounce glass. With that notion, 110% is not possible. Further, I would like to offer up that 100% is simply not possible. Therein lies the definition where expectation is a very detrimental concept.

It’s been said that “a man who lives his life with lowered expectations can never be dissatisfied”. That certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t strive to be the best that we can be. It simply means that we do not set our benchmark at 100%. If you have a benchmark of 100% and never attain it we call that failure. Failure is the killer.

In my clinic when working with an individual who’s depressed or stressed or chronically fearful, I asked them to change their point of view from an expectation rather to a goal. This is not a play on semantics, it is literally and figuratively a way for an individual to set himself up with a benchmark and still find a high level of success. Let’s just say you want to get 100 things done on a particular day. But you only got 95 of those tasks done on that particular day. 95 out of 100 tasks performed and completed would make an individual feel amazing. Whereas on the other hand, if you set your benchmark at 100% but only got a 95%, that individual left 5% on the proverbial table and it feels like failure.

So expectation is the bullet (if you will) that comes out of the perfection gun. Expectation is destructive, it makes an individual feel inferior, it does not help anyone to strive for 100% perfection because that simply is never possible. If we lose sight of the need or desire for perfection, and start looking at our day-to-day life with goals in mind: stress, depression, fear and anxiety become less and less and less.

Author
Robert J. Hernandez, M.D. I'm an Internal Medicine specialist with a primary focus on addiction. I've been a physician for 30 years. I've practiced in Sherman, Texas for 20 years. I was board certified in Internal Medicine in 1996. I began to work in addiction in 2001. It started with weight loss, yes food because that is in fact a real addiction. The most important thing that I've learned is that the whole point to addiction, and some of you may disagree, is to hide. From 'what' you may ask? We hide from our emotional pain. Those who are addicted knows this. The emotional pain is so great most of us would do anything to get away from that pain. The main issues is how one finds a way to "hide from that pain". There are healthy ways to hide. But most of us are way more familiar with the unhealthy way for hiding. Examples of healthy hiding: golf, church, bowling. Unhealthy ways to hide: alcohol, gambling, illicit drugs, working even food. We feel different when we hide, never better. I can help you to change this.

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