Fantasies and Expectations of Others
Post written by Leo Babauta.
Our lives are a series of fantasies â€” unfortunately weâ€™re not often aware that weâ€™re having them.
And while we all have fantasies, and sometimes they can be nice, the problem comes when life doesnâ€™t live up to the fantasy.
Reality is amazing, but when we compare it to the fantasy (which isnâ€™t real, of course), it doesnâ€™t measure up. As amazing as reality is, in all itâ€™s glory, it falls short if we expect it to be some fantasy.
This is a big reason weâ€™re unhappy with ourselves. Itâ€™s a reason weâ€™re unhappy with others, with our lives.
Itâ€™s also the reason we seek happiness in external things â€” we have fantasies about how great theyâ€™re going to be, how incredible our lives will be once we have these external things, how happy weâ€™ll be once we have them. Itâ€™s not true, though, and when we get those external things (food, a boyfriend, new clothes, etc.) … they fall short, and donâ€™t make us as happy as weâ€™d hoped. And we donâ€™t learn: we keep fantasizing, keep repeating the cycle.
Some examples of our fantasies:
- We see someone with a nice body and fantasize about getting abs like that, or arms like that.
- We want a boyfriend/spouse who will make us happy, love us unconditionally, be romantic, care for our every need.
- We fantasize about forming new habits and never messing up and having discipline.
- We fantasize that other people will be polite to us, never cut us off in traffic, never get angry, wash their dishes and clean up after themselves.
- We fantasize about having the perfect peaceful, productive morning.
- We fantasize that other people will always care about our stories, want to hear everything we have to say, care about our needs before all else.
Of course, we donâ€™t always know weâ€™re having those fantasies. But when we get frustrated, disappointed, irritated or angry with other people or ourselves, thatâ€™s a sure sign we had a fantasy that didnâ€™t come true.
We are unhappy with ourselves because we donâ€™t meet the fantasies we have about ourselves: that we should have perfect bodies, the perfect spouse, the perfect job, be good at everything, never mess up, have perfect habits, never procrastinate, and be like a movie star.
We are unhappy with others because they donâ€™t meet the fantasies we have about how others should behave: they should be unfailing kind to us, and happy not angry, and care about us and meet our needs and make us happy, and never be rude or cold or ignore us, and always clean up after themselves and be on time.
We are unhappy with our lives because our fantasies about how life should be donâ€™t come true: that the weather be perfect and that we have a beautiful house and a great job and always be at the center of peace and happiness and excitement, and surrounded by people who love us, and that we never lose anyone important, and that all the great things in our lives never change.
Happiness is about letting go of these fantasies, and realizing that life is amazing without them. People around us are amazing without the fantasies. We are amazing, without the fantasies.
How do we let go of the fantasies? First by shining the sunlight of awareness on them. Watch ourselves fantasize, realize that itâ€™s happening, realize that we donâ€™t need the fantasies. Be OK with letting them go. Watch reality closely, and recognize itâ€™s awesomeness, as it is, without the fantasies.
Itâ€™s there. We just need to learn to see it.