Do you find yourself complaining a lot, suffering a lot of let downs and disappointments? Is your life blighted by ongoing sagas about poor service or products that do not perform as they should?

When faced with being let down, or being disappointed, do you look for someone to blame — or do you acknowledge somewhere in your psyche that the problem may actually be one of your own making — the problem of false expectations?

I am not sure that my curious habit of looking at why things happen to me is personal to me, a small group of people or everyone — it is not really a subject that gets discussed over lunch or dinner.

I guess it could be a strong sense of personal responsibility that drives me to navel gaze as much as I do — or maybe an accumulation of lessons learned over my 55 years.

I know, for instance, that it was silly of me to expect the bath in the hotel in Pau to be full-sized when I was only paying 39 euros a night.

But was I so silly to expect a superb meal in a Michelin starred restaurant charging nearly a hundred pounds each for a three course meal for two including wine?

A lot of my earlier “failures” were undoubtedly due to me having unrealistic and therefore false expectations both of what was expected of me and with what I expected from others or from the situation at hand.

Lots of English idioms come to mind — “You get what you pay for” and “No pain, No gain” are just a couple.

It goes further than that though — if you have false expectations, were they of your own making or are there external factors which in the end leave you feeling you have been “suckered?”

I think in personal relationships, I have to take the responsibility — for being too trusting too soon, for misreading people’s intentions and also for hearing what I want to hear — rather than what people are saying. In other words I have, at times, been naïve and have been wearing “rose tinted spectacles.”

However, when it comes to outside services — from banking, to holidays, eating out to the provision of internet etc. — i.e. where I am handing over my hard-earned euros — I believe I should get what I pay for and a product that does what it says on the can, which of course, is where false representation can come into play.

Every minute of every day we are bombarded by “ideal” standards, you are not a “functioning” member of society unless you have a mobile phone, a new car, an iPad and a holiday home. This is the new version of the 2.2 children — the ideal family. There is a constant push for us to buy and consume. The perfume adverts where the girl always gets her boy — the deodorant adverts where the man always gets the girl — the loan adverts for loans at horrendous rates that clear all your debt and allow you a Caribbean holiday — conveniently not mentioning the new debt you have just acquired.

Just how much should we believe that “X” Hotel is wonderful just because they have a very flashy website and superb photography?

Do you ever check behind the publicity façade — check review sites where real people, including me, share their real experiences?

Do you check a review magazine before you buy a new camera to see how they perform — or do you trust the hype of the advert?

The next time you invest in time or money in someone or something take responsibility — do a reality check — ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable and if what is being offered is represented correctly and then you may just find that life gets a little easier along the way.


  1. Well writ! I put too much trust into others and have mile high expectations that end up in me being disappointed and without conditioner for my wife as you saw in my article from a couple of weeks ago.

    1. I think we all have an inherent need to trust others – not trusting other people is not a comfortable place to be.Who to trust with what is something that xomes with time and if you are anything like me that becomes less and less each day !

      I have to say it was your experiences that started me off on this line of thinking. I was thinking about how I would react – even to the stage of going and researching Shabbos and some of the rituals and rules that apply.

  2. This is quite a brilliant piece, Nicola, full of wondering and damnation! I especially like the self-damnation and the challenge for us, as readers, to face our own self-induced damnations.

    I have high expectations for myself and for those around me — and I need to learn to be more selective about imposing my righteous aesthetic in the world. SMILE! It’s worth setting the standard here where it sort of counts and gets propagated back into the world — but, in the sandwich shop, probably not so much. I tend to expect to get excellence back when I give excellence out and that’s only a wish on the wind with diminishing returns.

    1. SOUP !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Expecting people to have the same standards as yourself is another route that is often doomed – another example of fail on my part in the past.

      I find that those closest to me have similar standards to me – it always saddens me when they slip – there is always an emotional sigh and I have to lecture myself that they are human just as I am.

      1. Yes, SOUP! is a good example. The other day, I was in another sandwich shop I often frequent and I asked for a veggie patty sandwich. The guy only put on one patty instead of two — and I handled it well and reminded him that sandwich gets two patties and he put on the second one.

        On the walk home, I started wondering about the sandwich and if the guy was trying to rip me off or if he just didn’t know any better. It’s pretty hard to make a large sandwich with only one patty, so it never would have made any cognitive sense.

        Then I just decided to drop the thoughts because it worked out in the end and I really didn’t care to spend another moment trying to get into someone else’s confused mind! SMILE!

        1. I think that is an excellent way to motivate yourself – ie not to waste time where it does not really matter – dont sweat the little things – save it and your time for the big ones.

          1. Right — but we both know it’s in our INTJ DNA do do everything right the first time and not make the same mistake twice — and it’s difficult to accept there are others in the world… who really do not care as we care…

          2. Yah. That’s why it’s almost always better that we work alone and do things ourselves. Working with other people is often a disappointment — even if we expect to be disappointed!

  3. I really like this piece Nicola. I especially liked the opening when you sounded kind like an infomercial I see on tv early in the morning or at night. It really brought me in and made me want to read more.

  4. Thanks Brielle – this is one of those posts that started as one thing and ending up totally different that the original – glad you enjoyed it !

    1. I live DIM! It’s just easier and faster and simpler and I don’t have to teach anyone else how to do what I already know how to do. SMILE!

  5. YOu know, I think this is why I am a pessimist – I stopped having high expectations a long time ago – if I expect to be disappointed I am usually pleasantly surprised.
    On another note, I am really tired of receiving poor service in certain establishments and when i rant a bit to someone I am told “Well, what do you expect? You’d be in a bad mood too if you were only making minimum wage.” That is one of the sorriest excuses ever for providing poor service. And by service I merely mean being polite and just a little helpful…
    And I also tend not to trust product reviews, I have a suspicion all those rave reviews are written by paid reviewers – probably making minimum wage. 🙂

    1. I have used that strategy myself before.

      I wonder if those on minimum wage realise that if they smiled and were polite they might even get a tip …………… particularly if it is in a food /service environment..

      I tend to use the peer review sites like Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet when I travel and have used similar on and Booking,com. I have found them quite useful in gauging what to expect or not – as the case may be.

  6. Great insight. At some point or another we’ve all worn ‘rose tinted glasses’ and believed that everyone out there wants the best for us. Unfortunately that can’t always be the case (where is MY Caribbean vacation?!)

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