How to Expect the Best

by Jonathan

Positive expectations

Do you ever find yourself feeling stuck in negative thought patterns that dampen your expectations? You know the kind I mean, where you start expecting the worst possible outcomes.  Have you ever thought or said: ‘I don’t think I can make this work, or I seriously doubt that I can pull this off.”

This is a common mindset that often proves very difficult to change even after you finally decide that you’ve had enough.  That’s because the negative thoughts behind the negative expectations tend to breed and multiply like a malicious virus in your internal computer.

The good news is that turning a negative thought pattern into a positive one simply requires a bit of patience and persistence. You just need to make a conscious effort for a short time until the positive thought process begins to take over.

3 simple steps to begin forming positive expectations

1) Develop self-awareness to recognize negative expectations. One problem with negative thoughts is that they often form below your conscious level of awareness. You can get so used to them being in your head that you hardly notice them anymore.  To turn the tide of negativity, you’ll have to develop a stronger level of self-awareness.  One good way to start is by performing an attitude check-up several times a day.  Pay attention first to how you feel.  If you’re feeling positive and productive it’s an indicator that you’ve been thinking positive thoughts.

However, if you notice that you’re feeling irritable, pessimistic or stressed, you’re probably focusing more on negative thoughts.  When that happens…

2) Challenge and change the negative thoughts. Believe it or not, it is fairly easy to challenge and change negative thought patterns and expectations with a little focus.  For example, if you find yourself feeling doubtful about your ability to finish your work on time, you might engage in a bit of encouraging self-talk. For example, you might say:  “Okay, so I’m a bit worried right now, but really everything is under control.  I’m strong, I’m smart and I am definitely capable of finishing this project on time. I just need to focus, do my best, and everything will work out fine.”

Even though your circumstances have not changed, your attitude certainly has. This type of self-talk can get you thinking and feeling in a much more positive direction.

3) At the same time, while you’re changing negative thoughts to positive ones, work daily on developing a general positive expectation habit.  Each day when you wake up, affirm confidently, “Today is going to be a great day because _________!  I feel fantastic about being able to _________.” Fill in those blanks with three specific reasons for holding positive expectations about your day. Make them realistic and achievable so that your reality aligns with and affirms your positive expectations.

Change your perception, change your reality

When you encounter obstacles or problems, try to view them as opportunities to learn, grow and strengthen your overall perception of yourself and your abilities.  Perception is always 99% of the game! If you simply work on shifting the way you look at the experiences of your life, you will naturally start forming more positive expectations.

How do you push aside negative thoughts?
Do you have a favorite “positive expectation” tip to share?
The lines are open!

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra Lee

“One problem with negative thoughts is that they often form below your conscious level of awareness. You can get so used to them being in your head that you hardly notice them anymore.”

This is such a key point, Jonathan! I love this formula – so simple, but so powerful!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Sandra, have you ever noticed that people who are predominately negative don’t see themselves that way? This is usually why.

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Dia

Excellent article Jonathan. When we expect to get the best, this is exactly what we will get. This is exactly what happens to me everytime I expect the best. I also agree with you that we should work on developing positive expectations daily. With constant practice, the negative thoughts would diminish. Thanks for sharing

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dia,yes indeed, turning this in to a habit changes our entire outlook on life. The more we notice the positive side, the more positive there is to notice. It grows because we cultivated it.

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Frank Jovine

We just went through some bad times in which we expected a negative outcome. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 months ago and after the second surgery last Wednesday in which they removed three sentinel lymph nodes, we didn’t have high hopes as previous news from the first surgery wasn’t good. The good news, my wife has no residual cancer, hooray!

She is back blogging on her recipe site, but she still has a long road to recovery.

http://www.victoriarecipes.com

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

That’s a rough road to travel Frank. I am so glad things are looking up. Tell your wife I am thing good thoughts in her direction. I’ve noticed that going through an ordeal like this can actually draw a couple closer together and remind them of what is really important. I know you’ve been really supportive of her and That she really appreciates it.

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Robin Easton

Dear Jonathan,

This is all good, and I think the part that REALLY grabbed me was when you wrote:

“Each day when you wake up, affirm confidently, “Today is going to be a great day because _________! I feel fantastic about being able to _________.”

My immediate thought to this was, if I said this, it would be such simple things like this:

“Today is going to be a great day because (I can see, walk, hear music, because I am loved. Because I am safe. I am not imprisoned. I am alive) and so on._________! I feel fantastic about being able to (experience one more day on Earth and all that entails)_________.”

I know it may seem simple but doing this exercise right now, here, brought tears to my eyes and made my hectic day seem far less hectic. I think, as you say, this is something I could do several times a day, all day long. It is a powerful grounding exercise and reminds me what is really important in life.And it is something that seems to dovetail my natural way of ‘thinking’ and doing things. I like that.

Thank you dear friend.
Hugs,
Robin

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Way to take action Robin. I love simple life changing strategies. Thank you so much for doing a demo for us right on the spot. I love the things you chose to put in those blanks. They are things we all need to notice and appreciate because they are real. That’s where we need to live if we want to feel really good about our lives.

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rob white

Hi Jonathan,
Fantastic points. Taking control of that negative, inward self-talk is the first thing I do. One must realize that any inward voice insisting that we are victims – is a false voice. We must accept that we are a superlatively creative beings and stop treating ourselves so badly by wailing out ‘woe is me’. What’s the alternative? Poise and calm.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Excellent comment Rob. Your thoughts always resonate so well with my own. Thanks for sharing my friend.

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Andrea DeBell - britetalk

Hi Jonathan!
I’m a firm believer in “change your perception, change your reality.” I don’t give credit to my negative thoughts. I notice them, let them go by, and replace them with positive ones.

With time I’ve noticed that I became more aware of the negative thoughts that popped up. These thoughts now come less often.

Awareness is the great exercise. Loving blessings!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Andrea, you make an important point here. When we acknowledge negative thoughts it is important not to assign any value to them (as in judging them). They are just energy that we shouldn’t get emotionally invested in. If we do it becomes impossible to let them go. I like that you said “I don’t give credit to my negative thoughts.” That is exactly the right approach.

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Nea

I love your idea of developing a positive expectation habit. This is something that I truly work towards and I find that it works. The more I’m on the lookout for joy, the more joy shows up for me. Awesome post!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Nea, this was right on target: “The more I’m on the lookout for joy, the more joy shows up.” That’s how it works with any expectation. We polarize ourselves to attract it into our lives.

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Nadia Ballas-Ruta

Hi Jonathan,

Great advice! I have found that when people expect the worse, they end up creating the worse. You are so right…it all boils down to perception.

If you have the mindset that there is wisdom in every experience, you are more inclined to enjoy life and see the possibilities of what surrounds you. An open mind and open heart can do wonders.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Nadia, thanks for connecting expect and create. Once we fully grasp that connection it unlocks a great deal of personal power to define our own reality.

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Mike King

Great tips Jonathan. Hard to pinpoint any additional things for this, it seems to be to be quite a subjective answer. However, one thing I have learned, is that most of the THINGS on a list you can do will certainly have some impact, I find the best way to keep hopes up to expect the best is to truly understand oneself and accept oneself. Without that self-doubt always creeping in, expecting the best becomes almost the ‘only’ option.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

I agree Mike, it comes down to whether we get our own approval (which equals acceptance) or go looking for approval from another source in an effort to overcome self-doubt.

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Stacy

This is an excellent article! It is very important that we not only remove the negative expectations but also that we replace them with positive ones. Otherwise the negative expectations will just come right back home!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Stacy, there is a third choice also, but it requires a that we are already very comfortable with the flow of life in general. That 3rd choice is to have no expectations except that everything will be as it should be. In this state we just allow life to unfold without putting any conditions on it , or being attached to any particular outcome. This approach only fits into certain endeavors for productive people because when we start a project we are aiming for a predefined outcome. There needs to be an expectation.

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Dave Ursillo

Jonathan,

One of the greatest lessons I’ve taken from studying Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama is his practical methods. When it comes to something like expecting the best, there are few hidden secrets. The key is to practice, to take cognitive notice of how your mind is working — as you mention — and to realize the practical implications of your thoughts, habits, feelings, and perspective on different situations.

Great post. Thanks for it!

Warmly yours,

Dave

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dave, anytime we are aware enough to be an observer of our own “thoughts, habits, feelings, and perspective” we are way ahead of the game. Playing the role of an observer or “witness” is a huge step toward more conscious living.

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John Duffield

Hi Jonathan. Here’s my spin on “expecting the best”. In our world, the word “best” means “best of its kind”. In a flower show for example, the “best” rose is considered better than all the other roses. Same with the “best” daisy. But is the best rose better than the best daisy? It’s an “apple and oranges” thing. You can’t really compare them. Right? Exactly. But here’s something to think about. Imagine each person was a “one-of-a-kind” creation. Each of us is radically different. In flower terms, you could be a rose, your Dad a petunia, and me….well…I’m a weedy thistle. Everybody else is a completely different kind of flower. Okay, so now each of us is automatically “best of its kind”….as long as we stay true to ourselves…and don’t pretend to be something we’re not. For me then, “expecting the best” means “being myself”. I’ve noticed this about “being myself” too. It “attracts” things best for me. Ciao. John Duffield

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

John, we are 100% on the same page here. As always, I love your colorful analogy.

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Simon Hay

“One problem with negative thoughts is that they often form below your conscious level of awareness. You can get so used to them being in your head that you hardly notice them anymore.”

I had an epiphany moment about this very statement yesterday. I discovered something about myself that I want to change. I auto correct thoughts all the time, but I’m replaying a habit that makes life harder than it should be. I’m the proof for this staement. Nice my friend, talk soon.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Simon, so much of the development process is self-discovery. No matter what stage we are in there are things waiting to be released just below the surface. To me, that is what turns the journey into an adventure. Sounds like you are enjoying yours and knowing that brings me joy. Thanks for sharing my friend.

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Preeti

Jonathan,

I love the line, change your perception, change your reality. Changing negatives in to positive can be a great skill to learn and use. Thanks for sharing.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Preeti, once we realize that our perception controls how we view reality we also realize we have the power to change it.

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Arina

So true! Many people have great potential at success, but are often stopped by burdensome doubts within themselves. Doubting is a stage that’s part of getting somewhere, and could only be eliminated by action, as Von Goethe said. Indeed, as this post explained simply, we could never become the best without believing that we are best for the effort. And yet again, our mind and will should work together and dismantle wall of doubts. Then we could get somewhere.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Arina, I have found that self-doubt based on limiting beliefs is a much greater obstacle to success than a lack of skill or resources.

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Lou Ann Bennett

Thanks for the article Jonathan! Great simple steps, especially to start the day with intentional affirmations that tell the brain what to think. Love it! I enjoy all your articles about consciousness and choosing what we think.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Lou Anne, thanks for the kind words, very appreciated.

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Carla Fiscina

Thanks so much for this interesting post, Jonathan! I know many people who all the time see the world around them in negative light, and unfortunately it is very hard to make them see things otherwise…

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Carla, we can’t change other people, but we do get to choose whose influence to allow into our life.

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Walter

More often than not it’s hard to challenge our negative thoughts. It will take time, practice and motivation to truly defeat our propensity for negativity. But in the end it is us who will make the choice. It’s either we succumb to our negative perception or find a way to change it. :-)

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Mandy June

When you come into something thinking that you’re going to come out on top, you really do have that chance to come out on top. Positive thinking is a very influential part of our daily lives. It can really either make you or break you. Hopefully not the latter.

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Niko

Wow Jonathan, you have a really solid writing style. What you said is on the nose directly. Really good stuff.

We have to always challenge our limiting beliefs as they hold us back and bring nothing positive in return. Negative energy is so wasteful and it’s so much more healthy and productive to turn that into a positive charge.

Each of us have 2 negative voices: The Judge and The Victim. The Judge is always telling us that we’re not good enough, not beautiful enough, no smart enough etc. The Victim is always saying “poor me” and feeling sorry/pitying themself. It’s important for us to overpower and eliminate those two negative voices inside us.

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Steven H

Sometimes I like to play devil’s advocate with my negative inner voice.
- Negative: “Wah, no one likes me.”
* Devil’s Advocate(DA): “No one?”
- Negative: “Yeah, no one likes me. Wah.”
* DA: “I like you. So that is at least one person.”
- Negative: “Yeah, but you’re fictitious.”
* DA: “Well, what about your dogs? Or your parents?”
- Negative: “Well maybe…but I don’t know…they don’t always express it.”
* DA: “Why should they ‘always’ have to express it? They have to live their lives too. Do you always express love to the things you like?”
- Negative: “Well…no, I guess not.”
* DA: “See? So you’re wrong that ‘no one likes you.’”
- Negative: “Well…I guess. That does make sense.”

:)

I think often times we are negative nancy’s for no reason, and when we try to provoke ourselves to answer, “Why?” we usually can’t think of anything good. Knowing that our negative states have no substance can really help them to evaporate away.

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Tom Sörhannus

Thank you for the good tips on changing a negative state to a positive Jonathan! I have a daily things-to-do list and if I get stuck in doing something on the list I get on to another thing that I know is easier. When I have got that one of my list I feel better and can then continue with the first thing in a more positive state.

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Dave Ursillo

Jonathan,

The development of self-awareness is so crucial. If more (especially young) men and women were to better understand self-awareness and be more keen to develop self-awareness, they would find much more internal mental-emotional balance in all aspects of life.

Developing self-awareness, though, requires that accept a lot of personal responsibility for one’s actions and behaviors. Sadly, it is so much easier to to be indifferent and blame our behaviors and attitudes on others.

At some point in life, however, when happiness is the greater goal, self-awareness becomes a vital part of the journey.

All my best Jonathan,
Dave Ursillo

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Andy Badidis

You know how great this article is! I keep on thinking every single day about my negative thoughts and how they affect me!

I always say to my friends and family members that positive thinking/feelings is the “key.” Negative thoughts only bring you negative life and negative energy flow!

Thank you!

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Rob

Some informative details Jonathan, I really found this interesting and useful. I truly believe when you stated “If you simply work on shifting the way you look at the experiences of your life, you will naturally start forming more positive expectations.”
* positive thinking = Can lead you to succeeding. Which therefore implicates making you feel more confident, motivated and comfortable with situations etc…
- negative thinking = Can lead you to becoming stressed, unconfined, less motivated.

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Marko

It was great to read this, Jonathan.

I like the part when you say that we can use self-talk to control the focus of our thoughts. This is one of the good old self-help methods, yet it is so effective and easy to use…

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David

Great article, and I appreciated your comment about perception being 99% of the game and challenging negative thoughts. I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

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Chris

Whenever I find myself charging a negative thought, I revert to an old technique I learned years ago (Silva Mind Method) and just repeat “Cancel – Cancel” in my head. Then I’ll use NLP techniques and adjust the tone, crispness, etc. of the thought until it has no energy. Once that’s done (takes a few seconds) I focus on being grateful and get on with the day!

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James

Wow thats true Jonathan keep going positively is the challenge with me but I haven’t given up yet.

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Ragnar

Hmmm, I have been thinking a lot about expectations lately. And I wondered whether or not being open for both good and bad results is the best choice for me personally. The disappointment that follows too high expectations can be crushing, but if you are open for both, you are prepared whatever happens. Of course you need to foster mainly positive expectations, while retaining some of the negative ones.. then find a balance.

Because obviously I understand the value of good expectations to serve as a motivation. But at the same time, a film of realism needs to be applied in my opinion. Of course if you’re the kind of person that can take major disappointments in stride, you would remain unaffected.

Completely agree with perception being 99%. Once you learn to interpret what you see as failures, as part of a learning curve, the sting gets significantly weaker. They can even help motivate to keep you going. Maybe if you always stay optimistic about your final goal, but set several stepping stone goals that can go either way.

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