A Note on Awareness and Expectations

Have you ever been really excited to see a movie your friend told you was “the best movie ever” and been sorely disappointed? Or planned to drive somewhere expecting the traffic to be awful and then it was actually a breeze?

Do you think your expectations of the event impacted your experience of it? We have so many expectations and, often, we’re unaware of those expectations and how our expectations influence our experience of the event.

This can extend beyond the mundane, but the mundane events in life are a good place to practice awareness of expectations. So, I wanted to share a note on awareness and expectations based on my own experience. 


Expectations are preconceived ideas or notions we have about something; those expectations may or may not match the outcome.

The other day, I bought a juice that had been highly recommended as one of the top rated juices around. So, I thought the juice was going to be good. Now, good juice to me means it has to taste sweet, and I was looking forward to drinking it. Immediately after the first sip, I thought the juice wasn’t good because it didn’t taste sweet. 

Since I had already bought it, I continued to drink it. After my third or fourth sip, I started thinking  the juice not being sweet doesn’t make it bad. So I began to notice how this new thought seemed to have replaced my original thought, and I started enjoying drinking the juice as my perception had shifted. I then realized that sweetness isn’t the only thing that might make good juice, there are other characteristics that can make juice good. 

Sometimes, our expectations can actually change the way we experience an event.

Now, question: Are we going to let those preconceived ideas dictate how we experience life?

You might be wondering what juice has to do with it – just like with most experiences in life, I had an expectation about something which influenced the way I experienced it and influenced the conclusions I drew about the experience.

This made me realize how many times I’ve had expectations in the past and because things turned out to be different from what I had expected; I didn’t enjoy them or, what’s worse, I have dismissed them. 

Our thoughts directly influence the way we see the world, therefore, how we interact in it. 

So knowing this, are there times that you might benefit from letting go of your expectations? Start over and experience the thing as it’s happening in the moment? I think sometimes it depends on whether or not we are ready to take the leap and make the adjustments so we can be present and lose focus of all those preconceived notions we have about things.

If you feel ready, the next time you catch yourself in an experience where it doesn’t match your expectations, see if you can ask yourself, is there another way to look at this?

It isn’t always possible, and if it doesn’t feel possible to you in the moment, that’s ok! There is still value in practicing asking the question to make space for other possibilities. When we make it a habit to ask ourselves if there is another way to look at things we create awareness around our expectations and, when it is possible to look at something another way, we’re more likely to catch the opportunity.


About the Author

Karina Carvajal Frakt is an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist at True North Psychology in San Jose, CA. In Karina’s words, “I believe everyone has the capacity for healing and transformation within themselves.”