Have you ever built up a life event or experience so much that you find yourself feeling let down when it doesn’t meet or exceed your expectations? Here’s how we can prepare ourselves for life events in a way that helps us to stay in the moment regardless of setbacks or changes.
Why Do We Allow the Hype to Ruin Exciting Moments?
Have you ever experienced the feeling of anticipating a new movie only to find yourself underwhelmed? Have you ever planned a vacation only to arrive and have your hopes crushed by seemingly endless rain?
Of course, it’s natural to look forward to a vacation or be excited to see a new movie. It’s also perfectly healthy to experience disappointment when something doesn’t work out the way we had planned. However, it’s often our thoughts and actions before an event that increase our chances of it being a let-down.
3 Ways to Avoid Setting Yourself Up for Disappointment
When I am looking forward to something I walk myself through a few steps that keep my mind from building too much hype. That might sound a little pessimistic, but it has saved me from feeling discouraged. It has increased my ability to find contentment in unforeseen circumstances. I also believe that it helps me to be more spontaneous.
Take Note of Your Emotions
Humans are emotional creatures, and despite my best efforts to appear as if I am level-headed and calm all the time, there are certainly events that get my emotions going. Whenever I am looking forward to something in particular, I will take note of which of my emotions have me feeling full of unrealistic expectations.
Emotions can be great, but the potential negatives of daydreaming are increased when you let your emotions run the show. For example, when I am looking forward to a family celebration like a birthday or a holiday, I will often let my excitement and hope overflow. I’ll imagine amazing conversations, perfect weather, and zero inconvenient or unplanned changes.
It’s key for me to avoid disappointment during these times by acknowledging my dreamy hopes for what they are — my imagination. What my mind dreams up before an event may not take place. Tying emotions to a specific “plan” in my mind can make for a negative reaction or feeling about a change in events. If I am focused on how I imagined the event would go, I don’t have as much time to enjoy reality.
Prepare for the Worst
The common phrase, “prepare for the worst, plan for the best,” is a little different in my mind. Instead I think to myself, “prepare for the worst and plan less.” I don’t allow my emotions to take the wheel before an upcoming change or event. I use that time to prepare my mind for circumstances that might negatively impact the outcome.
For example, I was looking forward to the day of my sister’s bridal shower. “The plan” said that we would arrive at the church, get all the decorating done, and everything will go smoothly. Instead of spending my time allowing my emotions to get wrapped up in daydreams of the perfect day, I spent it preparing for some alternate situations.
One of the other bridesmaids in charge of an important task may be sick. Some guests who didn’t RSVP may show up. We might have less time to decorate than we thought. These scenarios are unlikely, but using time before the event to plan for them will help to sidestep sadness if “the plan” falls apart.
How often does an event go exactly according to “the plan?” In my life, very rarely. The world is full of chaos and potential disappointment. However, if we acknowledge that our daydreams aren’t reality and choose to pre-imagine less of the event, it allows us more flexibility when “the plan” changes. It also helps us to avoid feeling disappointed in giving up on unrealistic expectations.
For example, my husband and I went on our honeymoon in Punta Cana and experienced pristine weather for the entire trip. We were imagining our 1 year anniversary trip to Cancun to go similarly.
We made “the plan” in our head for perfect weather. It allowed our emotions from the previous trip to set us up for disappointment when “the plan” changed. We arrived in Mexico and discovered that it would rain for 4 of the 6 days we were there. Of course, the disappointment didn’t ruin the trip, but we did spend some of week comparing it to our honeymoon.
If we had acknowledged the emotions tied to the trip, put less stock in “the plan,” and prepared for some of the alternate situations we could be faced with, we might have enjoyed the experience more overall.
The Importance of Living in the Moment
I know that I spend a lot of my life on autopilot. I get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, and start over again. I’ve made it a priority in my life to try and catch myself in autopilot and reset my perspective and my mind. If you want to join me in my quest to be more present in everyday moments, check out some of the tips I have learned over the last few years.
Read More: 6 Simple Tips to Practice Living in the Moment.