It seems a large part of the human experience is predicated on the affirmation of congruence. There seems to exist within our mind this intrinsic search, questioning all that it is we see, to determine whether it conforms with the projection of the world we have in place at that moment in time.
When something we perceive as out of the ordinary occurs, it seems we are presented with two choices. One, is to accept it as is, and incorporate it into our projection of the world. Otherwise, we reject it. This seems to be either social rejection (avoidance), or psychological rejection (unbelieving). People high in the “openness” character trait, will have an easier time incorporating things into their expectations that others may perceive as strange.
Perhaps this is why controlling expectations has such a large effect on overall happiness. When we can control something that holds power over our fundamental perspective on the world, we become more “realistic” in that our expectations become less idealistic.
Think of it as a graph:
As you can see, having an “expective” view of the world becomes increasingly ideal; the individual becomes more determined to perceive the world a certain way. Expecting nothing then, allows us to be free(r) of unintended consequences, and thus feel a little more liberated.
But why is this so hard? And should we even do so?
Well, without expectations the individual would go insane. There can be no such thing… human beings are not designed to exist without having at least some grasp of reality. Can we truly function in society without expectations? The basis for an active theory in the “real” world is consistent affirmation of a possible expectation. Instead, I believe there are types of expectations we must learn to manage.
It seems to me that there are two fundamental types of expectations:
Intrinsic – An expectation that governs the fundamental way in which we act in the world. An individual can choose to have no intrinsic expectations (unless thinking itself requires an expectation of a fundamental belief system; I’m inclined to think so). Otherwise, an intrinsic expectation is what you choose to believe to be true about the world. These are “base” facts that you cannot live without expecting (e.g the sandwich is on the table).
Extrinsic – an expectation that is constructed either by you or society, and something not necessarily fundamental in leading an active life. Expectations based on societal constructs are what can be the most damaging (e.g Susan will arrive at 7:00). In other words, extrinsic expectations are beliefs not predicated on what we believe to be real or not.
It then becomes how we manage these expectations, that can lead to a more balanced view of reality. We must become grounded in our intrinsic expectations. Choose them wisely, and abide by them. Managing our extrinsic expectations, is where ones day-to-day life can improve.
For example, an intrinsic belief could be that one believes other humans exist in the world. It is sound, and is a belief that will work for most people. Arguments can be made for just about anything, so this is why one must choose their own intrinsic beliefs (if you wish to have any at all—oh nihilists!). An extrinsic belief could then be that one believes other humans exist in the world, and that they are all good. It is here where extrinsic expectations can pose problems to the individual. Whereas intrinsic beliefs are easier to stand by, an extrinsic belief is more susceptible to disruption. It is in these disruptions in our expectations that causes grief, anguish, and despair towards the world, towards, others, towards the self. We become dissatisfied.
It is important then, that we distinguish expectations from beliefs. An expectation, is a belief system in which the individual draws conclusions as to what will happen based on previous experiences, or strong belief in specific outcome. A belief however, is the affirmation to the self that something is true, regardless of evidence. Based on these definitions, one can conclude that belief precedes expectation.
Our perception of congruence then, is predicated on our expectations of particular patterns in the things we see around us. How we then interact with those things and patterns (and seek congruence in them) affects the way we integrate in the world around us.
This is why it is important to be congruent. As people come to know you, they will search for congruence in your character, in your actions, in your words. Through your conversations, people intuit your mannerisms, and quirks, and assert them into their expectations of who (or what) they believe you to be. Thus, through the things we do that create a lack of congruence, we give others the opportunity to create either intrigue, or disgust. We can compel others towards us, by showing a side of ourselves that they are yet to see. If another perceives this new facet of your being as “good” or “positive” naturally they are likely to be intrigued and thus compelled… interestingly, this is not seen as incongruence.
However, if they see that this other side of you is incongruent in a way that suggests you are deceptive, or psychologically unhealthy, you will create degrees of disgust within the other individual. Depending on its severity, it can either be dismissed, or cause complete aversion. Congruence in your character matters.
In conclusion, breathe your reality, your perceptions, and your essence onto everything you do. Live truthfully, so that you can be satisfied with your existence. Be you. To be yourself unforgivably takes a level of fortitude to achieve… it is perhaps the ultimate form of vulnerability. You open yourself up to criticism, as anything you do that others come to dislike is ultimately YOU, the deepest, most essential part of your being. This is by no means easy, or arguably even achievable. However, the individual who is able to incorporate their “true self” into their being, fortuitously, and unapologetically, is paradoxically, an ideal worth striving for.
– Ponder Mars.