Going to the movies is something I rarely do. I tend to wait for the DVD release, then hire them on “cheap Tuesday”. I can pause it as many times as I like, and if it’s bad I can switch it off and it’s only set me back $2. But last Friday night I actually went to the movies. It was a very special occasion.
I’d heard some friends chatting about a movie they’d been to see. They discussed the positives, negatives and said it was a decent movie to see. So, when the opportunity arose to see the movie, I jumped at it.
What hit me throughout the movie, and in discussions after the movie with my fellow movie-watching companions, was how much I’d been influenced my my friends’ opinion of the movie. I walked into the cinema with certain expectations, based on what I’d heard from my friends. My reaction to the movie was really influenced by THEIR reaction to the movie, as I expected it to be the way they found it.
I was waiting for the I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants laughter moments, as this was my friends experience… so when this didn’t happen for me, my thought was “the movie wasn’t really that funny”. Yet, I giggled my way through the movie. There was plenty I could relate to and found funny. Just not side-splitting funny, perhaps because I was expecting it. It was a funny movie.
I was waiting for it to not quite ‘tie together’, because this had also been mentioned… but throughout the movie I noticed repeatedly how interlinked the stories were. In this sense, I was anticipating it so much, that it was what my brain focused on. I noticed just how much it ‘tied together’.
Whilst I’ve been aware for a long time that my expectations play a huge part in my reaction to something, this movie night has been so enlightening as to just how much expectations play a part in our experiences. It is so critical to be aware of, and be able to name, our expectations.
In daily life, if I’m having a rough day and my husband walks in the door at 6:30pm…
….if I were expecting him to be home at 6pm…
…there’s a high chance I’m going to be frustrated or annoyed….
… if I were expecting him to be home at 7pm…
…there’s a high chance I’m going to be excited, surprised, relieved etc…
So much of my reaction is influenced by expectation.
Even after writing this earlier in the week, I experienced it again today, when after holding out all week for an appointment the outcome wasn’t what I had hoped for. There was such an emotional letdown. As soon as I realised it was my expectations that had influenced my emotions, I was able to correct my thoughts and adjust my feelings about the situation.
When you’re expecting something, expect that your expectations can influence your experience.