The power of expectation subconsciously controls your life to finally create self fulfilling prophesies. The expectations of those around you modify your behavior for better, or for worse. Your own expectations can fill you with energy, or drive you into despair and despondency. Expectations narrow your choices in life, while providing drives, which energize you into achieving higher goals. Imitative learning, unique self perceptions and social boundaries mold the expectations, which intuitively focus your goals and empower your endeavors.
The traditions of your family, instilled by imitation from infancy set your goals. Your belief, that you are a particular kind of person with a particular role, generates the expectations, which can make you a winner, or a loser. Expectations can fill you with the energy to achieve more, or make you unhappy and dissatisfied. Understand the mechanisms, which create those expectations. With self awareness, you can empower the positive expectations and discard the negative ones.
Power Of Expectation – Intuition Narrows Choices
This website presents a “pattern recognition view” to explain the immense power of your mind. You know that your brain stores memories of evolutionary events across millions of years. It stores the sights, sounds and experiences of a lifetime. It remembers thousands of your habitual activities. This wisdom is suggested to be stored by the brain in its 100 billion nerve cells as instantly retrievablecombinatorial codes (Nobel Prize 2004). From this galactic store,intuition is the process, which recalls such codes, in fractions of a second, as the image of a school picnic, or the complex hand movements of your signature.
The brain achieves all this using inductive reasoning through a process of elimination. All nerve cells recognize combinatorial patterns. Those cells, which are unrelated to your current concern become inhibited, since they fail to recognize a linking pattern. Throughout the nervous system there are neural circuits which switch off other circuits when their own areas are energized. Context is identified through elimination. If the animal you see is pink, it is NOT an elephant. Such a search through the massive database in billions of neurons focuses on the answer within the blink of an eye. Everything you do works this way. For each word in your speech, the system eliminates all the words in your vocabulary, which do not suit the expression of your idea.
As someone said "When a tiger bounds towards you, what should your response be? Should you file your toenails? Do a cartwheel? Sing a song? Is this the moment to run an uncountable number of randomly generated response possibilities through the decision rule?" Inhibition works to eliminate alternatives for every decision of the nervous system. If the choice is to chew grass, the drive to quench thirst is instantly inhibited. The elimination process wisely also discards “impossible” solutions from its search. Expectation works by narrowing possibilities. Your hidden expectations eliminate many options in your life by putting them into the “impossible” category.
The Power Of Expectation – Imitation
Subconscious imitation narrows the range of expected social actions. Without actually seeing ourselves, we tend to imitate other members of our social circle. We are born with a visual pattern recognition system, which converts visual recognition messages into proprioceptive motor patterns. Nerve cell codes process light patterns into motor impulses.
Meltzoff found that infants, as young as 42 minutes old, imitate lip protrusion, mouth opening, tongue protrusion and finger movements. They imitated movements, such as tongue protrusion and lip protrusion, without confusing between the actions. In a process, which begins early, imitative learning converts the movements and gestures of our community into our durable habits. A Western adult cannot easily adopt the shuffling gait of a Chinese peasant. The imitation process narrows down the scope for individual social activities into those expected from a particular social group.
The Power Of Expectation – The Dopamine Effect
While a particular expectation narrows choices, the expectation of a reward causes the mind to release dopamine, energizing the system. Professor Wolfram Schultz discovered that the neuro-modulator dopamine is released when a cue from the environment indicates that your actions will lead you to a valued reward. Dopamine provides clarity to immediate objectives and makes a person feel more energetic and elated. The process inducts you into a happy “Living in the Now” state of mind. Dopamine levels rise when you want something, even something as simple as wanting to cross the road. A person feels more aware and interested in the tasks on hand. Working towards a pleasurable goal energizes you.
It is not the reward, but the expectation of a reward, which releases dopamine. Nature, in its wisdom, energizes the system till the goal is achieved and then stops. Using the same logic, motor impulses stop firing to contract muscles, when when a target is achieved. The enthusiasm generated by an expectation lasts till the goal is achieved. Scientists were surprised to discover that working towards a pleasurable objective by itself granted energy and vitality. As a result, most people feel disappointed at the lack of an imagined excitement after reaching a desired objective. In fact, people drop off into an exhausted sleep after winning a strenuous contest. The expectations during the journey are more exciting than joy of reaching the destination.
The Power Of Expectation – Pattern Recognition Of Rewards
Once their basic needs are met, expectations of imagined rewards motivate people to work harder. Schultz found that dopamine releases related to the recognition of cues in the environment, which indicate valued rewards. While unexpected benefits also release dopamine, people, who work towards a goal, don't usually know how it feels when they win. They imagine. Those desires, which have been satiated, are also no longer attractive. With each venture, people actually imagine better rewards, which, naturally have fewer blemishes. The next achievement is believed to be better than the last.
Material comforts, monetary benefits, the prestige of winning prizes, the discovery of new ideas and the completion of projects are typical imagined rewards, which motivate people. Visions, images and stories of success create expectations, which make people persistently work for such rewards. Great leaders and the advertising industry have the capacity to generate those images, which fire the imagination. Corporations use small unexpected rewards to increase expectations. Surprise bonuses, parties and awards to winners generate excitement about achieving goals. Expectations of such rewards release the dopamine, which make people apply themselves with increased energy and greater focus.
The Power Of Expectation – Building Positive Expectations
The best managers have confidence in themselves and in their ability to hire, develop and motivate people. Their self confidence and success naturally generate positive expectations. Their subordinates naturally expect to succeed. The underlings are given responsibility and their judgments are trusted. Their mistakes are accepted as part of the learning process. When such positive expectations are transmitted, people respond with energy and enthusiasm. Once happy expectations have been cultivated, the process becomes self sustaining. The organization continues to communicate high expectations.
The Power Of Expectation – Building Negative Expectations
Unfortunately, the expectations of many people are narrowed by their early experiences in life. Teachers, who are under pressure to deliver results tend to ignore the differently talented children. They become impatient with them, provide them with few opportunities to answer questions, or fail to help them to discover answers. A lack of attention and ongoing criticism discourage children and make them lose interest in studies. A teenager, who has been told he is worthless, with no sense of right or wrong, will expect to fail in life. Negative expectations conveyed to children eliminate vast areas of opportunity from their minds.
The Power Of Expectation – The Impact Of Disappointments
Anger and despair follow the disappointment of an expectation. Dopamine levels fall sharply after a disappointment. The resulting sense of loss is painful. Normally, a patient suffers pain, when damaged skill cells cause nociceptors, pain nerve cells, to fire. But pain processing channels have also a disagreeable emotional “hurt” component, which fires, when a person suffers a loss. To enable animals to remember and avoid pain, “speed dial circuits,” persist over the years in the amygdala, the organ associated with the avoidance of pain.
These circuits draw attention to the pain, when any related events occur and continue the sense of disappointment over long periods. It is important for leaders and organizations to avoid giving high expectations to people. Unmet expectations are remembered. They generate strong threat responses and can lead to permanent hostility. Great leaders carefully manage expectations to avoid not meeting them. If you keep your expectations low, you will avoid disappointment and be thrilled with any received rewards. Keeping cool about potential wins pays off.
The Power Of Expectation – Social Stereotypes
Expectations create social stereotypes, which simplify the complexity of social interactions. Negative expectations are initiated by fear, or anger, which intuitively limit recall to fearful, or angry memories, causing people to accept inconsistent information. Unthinking expectations confirm prejudices during social interactions by focusing on negative behaviors and ignoring positive contributions.
The Power Of Expectation – Let Expectations Energize You
However small a reward, its expectation releases dopamine and energizes you. The mindfulness exercises work when you pay attention to the small things around you and carry out your tasks with focused effort. As you carry on this practice, you will find joy in preparing a meal, a few moments of quietness, listening to music, or a discourse. Become conscious of each joyful event. Fit the few such things which you enjoy into your schedule. Then you can look forward to a few rewarding moments all through the day, even in a tedious work schedule. Expectation of these breaks can fill you with energy.
The Power Of Expectation – Delete Unrealistic Expectations
Expectations are self-fulfilling prophecies. They are subconsciously formed internally and communicated to others. People respond to them and adjust their behaviors accordingly. The expectations, which can decide your future are hidden. Bring them out into the open. Write down the things, which bother you in life. Ask yourself if any of these relate to an unrealistic expectation.
Are you expecting flawless performances from life? Have you made the right career choice? Are you blaming yourself for actions over which you have no real control? The Self Improvement Plan in this website suggests a way of putting down all this data and making sense of it. You can manage your expectations. You can prevent emotional roller coasters and enjoy greater peace of mind. Trusting and empowering your positive expectations can lead you to excellence.
This page was last updated on 08-Sep-2014