How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations


Unrealistic expectations can rob us of our joy. If we can identify them we can sometimes begin see things from a new and different perspective. Discover a simple way to identify unrealistic expectations in any area of your life by clicking through!

The dictionary defines the word expectation like this:

A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

Expectations can be good, but unfortunately, our expectations can also be unrealistic.
Unrealistic expectations rob us of joy, often without us realizing it.

Unrealistic expectations rob us of joy, often without us realizing it.Click To Tweet

If you are dealing with unrealistic expectations in your life, you might be feeling some of the following things:

• You might feel a sense of frustration or anger within certain areas of your life.
• You might feel as if nothing you do is good enough.
• Even when you are productive, you feel as if you are getting nowhere, never really obtaining your goals.
• You reach your goal, yet feel as if you could have done more.
• You may also feel frustrated with others around you.
• You may feel like things are supposed to be different.
• You often think through the filter of the word “should.” This person “should” be this way. I “should” have done that.
• You suffer a lot of disappointments inside a specific area of life. You feel disappointed with others, or you may feel disappointed in yourself.
• You feel like you aren’t where you are supposed to be in life.
• You berate yourself for not meeting your goals.
• You tend to think negative things about yourself.

Think about your life. Do you feel this way in any particular area? If so, those areas might be places in your life where you have unrealistic expectations.

Fortunately, there is an easy way for you to figure out where those unrealistic expectations are. Try this easy exercise:

1. Pray first. Ask God to help you think objectively. Ask Him to bring to your mind any issue that needs attention.

2. Now think of an area in your life where you are feeling a lot of frustration, anger, hurt or disappointment.

3. Within the area, write out all the things you feel should be happening. These “should be” statements are your expectations.

4. Look over your list and pray about it. Ask God to help you focus on any areas that might be unrealistic. Try to step outside your feelings long enough to look at your expectations with a fresh perspective. Maybe even let a close friend read your list. A friend who is outside your situation might be able to help you identify any unrealistic expectations that are hard for you to see yourself. Be as honest and as objective as you can. It may mean writing your list, then stepping away from it for a day or two while you pray for God to give you eyes to see what He needs to point out to you.

It may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions as you look over your list. These are all things I have realized in my own life as God helped me understand that my own unrealistic expectations were causing a lot of my frustration and disappointments in certain areas of my life.

• Is my expectation in line with truths from the Bible?
• Does my expectation need a new or different time-frame? Do I need to entirely remove my time frame so God can do His work?
• Am I expecting too much from myself, more than I can realistically accomplish?
• Does my expectation allow room for mistakes from myself or others?
• Does my expectation ask or demand something of someone or myself that they or I can not possibly give? In other words, does my expectation leave room for grace?
• Does my expectation let others be who they are? Or am I deciding who they should be?
• Does my expectation let God in? Am I creating a goal or plan based on what I think it should be and what I think it should look like? Have I consulted God?
• Is this what Jesus would do? Would Jesus think this way?

Use this printable to identify unrealistic expectations in your life.

Are any unrealistic expectations coming to light after thinking, praying, and asking yourself these questions? Keep praying over these things and bring your list back next week! You’ll need it as we dive further into how to let go of unrealistic expectations!

*I made a worksheet to help you! You can download this printable HERE. You’ll also find this worksheet and many more like it in the Resource Library! Everything there is designed to help you in your prayer life. You can subscribe to the library by clicking HERE.

Get this FREE printable to discover an easy way to recognize unrealistic expectations in your life! Click To Tweet

Today, I’m leaving you with some truths from God’s word. These are good verses to think about when unrealistic expectations get in the way. Let’s think on these verses through the week and ask God to begin changing us in any way needed. We can be assured He is always renewing us day by day!

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Ephesians 4:23, NKJV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV

Do you ever wonder why life seems frustrating? Do you suffer a lot of disappointments in your relationships? Unrealistic expectations might be the culprit that is holding you back from the joy that God has in store for you.Discover a simple way to identify unrealistic expectations in any area of your life by clicking through!




Focus Verses
Each verse in this article is linked to its appropriate page over at Bible Hub where you can find many more free resources for further study.

Let’s Talk
What has helped you identify unrealistic expectations in your life?

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you now asking for a new perspective. Help us see our unrealistic expectations. Help us to understand how they affect our outlook on life. Instead of looking through the filter of our own expectations, help us see the shining light of what we can expect from You! Thank you for renewing our minds. In Jesus name, Amen.

Next Week
Next week we will talk about how to let go of any unrealistic expectations we found from this week’s exercise. Don’t forget to pick up your free worksheet! Click HERE to get it!

This is Part 1 of our blog series about expectations. Read Part 2 HERE.

This post may be linked in other encouraging places. Click HERE to find out where!

The post How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations (Part 1, Identifying Unrealistic Expectations) first appeared at


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Unrealistic expectations can rob us of our joy. If we can identify them we can sometimes begin see things from a new and different perspective. Discover a simple way to identify unrealistic expectations in any area of your life by clicking through!

14 thoughts on “How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Hi Leslie, a lovely post. “Expectation” the word appears simple in its manifestations but is such an intriguing interpretations and as beautifully articulated in this post, it can act either way and when we are able to manage our expectations we are in control of our happiness. And the moment we drift and have unrealistic expectations we are trapped in imbroglio…
    Setting goals in life is an important aspect of building our competencies and developing in our life and while doing so we may get swayed by the loftiness of our goal and set goals that are intrinsically embedded with unrealistic expectation and then suddenly we are in trouble. Balancing between stretchable goals and manageable expectation is an art by itself and we learn by making mistake and experiment ourselves in different situations and facing the challenge we grit and gumption.

    It was great to land here Leslie and enjoying your lovely lovely thoughts.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Hi Leslie,

    Oh, it was so good to stop by here tonight and be reminded of where my expectations are getting me! (again) This has been a lifelong area of struggle for me. I have often become so frustrated with not meeting an expectation that I have given up when I know it wasn’t the best decision. Because my life had fallen into a season of a much higher demand of my time and energy with my family, I was falling short of my ministry expectations. It’s been so frustrating and at times I was tempted to give up on it because I felt I couldn’t do it justice. But then I had to realign my expectations with those of God and when I did? Well, I realized I was creating a gap of expectation that didn’t really need to be there. I’m surely a work in progress 🙂

    I love the worksheet you are offering! What a fantastic resource!

    Many blessings and smiles,

    1. Lori, I love that you described that gap we tend to create between our expectations and and God’s. It’s such a struggle to get that out of the picture, a struggle I’ve delt with often as well. Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kind words! Many blessings!

    1. Neca, thank you so much. They come from real life and God’s prodding in my life as He showed me areas I needed to work on. I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting today!

  3. It’s so easy to get ahead of God and expect things He hasn’t promised. Love that He’s in control and we don’t have to worry or expect — all we have to do is abide and listen to Him. 🙂 Good lists. (Love that butterfly pic.) 🙂 ((hug))

    1. Hi Michele, It’s a matter of prayer for me too, a big struggle for many years in my life. Fortunately, I catch it sooner now, but unrealistic expectations are a real thing for me! Thanks for stopping by!!!

  4. I was captured by the title of your post! Unfortunately, my expectations get the best of me. I am praying through my expectations and I’ll openly share it’s been a journey! I did print out your worksheet and I look forward to putting it to good use. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Robin, It’s been a journey for me, too. I think in all my problem areas one thing that helps the most is letting go of unrealistic expectations. It is so hared to do, though!!! I hope the worksheet is helpful and I really appreciate you reading and commenting! Blessings!

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