False Expectations

Positive Expectations

Expectations are important.

They have been shown to change our perceptions and influence our outcomes.

We see this happen when we go to a movie after reading the reviews, listened to a band that was recommended by a trusted friend, or eat at a fancy restaurant.

Even our everyday interactions with other people are significantly changed by our expectations.

Expectations play a role in physical therapy too.  The patient that wants dry needling has better outcomes, the patient that thinks they need ultrasound get relief from it, and the patient that has a desire to get stronger does better with exercises.

Our expectations often become our experience.

Much like the dog above.  

He expected a wonderful world of endless grass and slow ducks.

The positive aspect of this expectation is that it ignited joy, excitement, and a willingness to play.

The downside is that his expectations didn't meet up with reality and he was left wet and duckless.

False Expectations

Like the dog above, when we chase our expectations too rigidly we often get introduced to a harsh reality.

To stick with the examples above...false expectations can cause us to sit through pretentious movies, listen to bad music, and eat overpriced art projects.  

Unfortunately, false expectations are an epidemic in healthcare and physical therapy.  

The patient that expects to resolve chronic pain in 3 visits never gets better, the rotator cuff repair expecting a full recovery in 4 weeks struggles with rehab, and the runner that expects to keep running with an injury that ends up having to give up the sport.

However, unlike the dog above, the reality doesn't always splash us in the face.

When we grip too hard to our false expectations it can lead to prolonged suffering, poor outcomes, and cause us to miss out on the reality we're living in now.

What to Do

It's important to set positive expectations and have goals.  This alone can improve our lives.

But we shouldn't allow these expectations to become beliefs and alter our perception of reality.

If we cling to the expectations of how it should be, we'll never see how it is.

And when we do get a face full of reality, it's important to let go of the former expectations and move on.

success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction
— Al Bernstein
 let go of expectations and embrace the splash of reality ( image source )

let go of expectations and embrace the splash of reality (image source)