Expectations alter Reality

Last week we explored how expectations kill people.

But expectations have another, perhaps more powerful function. They bend reality to meet us. Humans have always been able to imagine a different reality and then bring it into being. It's the source of every innovation we have ever made.

Research and anecdotal evidence shows that many people in survival situations stay alive against incredible odds, sometimes even defying medical science. It would be reasonable to think that they are people who are physically tough, or better trained for the situation that they face. The reality is far more interesting – the one thing they have in common is that they expect to survive.


There's a great example of this in  “Unbroken”, Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louie Zamparini. Louie was lost at sea on a life raft for 47 days having been shot down over the Pacific in 1943. The on the raft were two of Louie's  crew mates - the only survivors of the crash. The book and subsequent movie are well worth a look.

Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil’s hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigour. Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyse him and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil’s optimism, and Mac’s hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling.
— Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

Ultimately, Mac passed away, while the other two survived their ordeal.

There's a powerful link between what we expect, what we intend and where we put our attention.
Zamparini intended to survive. He expected events to unfold to support his intention. He gave his attention to the evidence that suggested he was right, and to the actions that supported his intention.

You and I have intentions and expectations everyday, in every area of our lives, whether we are aware of them or not. They guide and focus our attention. For the greatest likelihood of success, all three factors need to be conscious and work in harmony with each other.

Asking yourself these questions will assist in bringing them into your conscious mind. 

What is my intention? Am I clear about my intention? If not, how can I make my intention clearer to myself and the people around me? Is my intention aligned to my personal values?

What do I expect in this situation?

Now give your attention to the actions and mindsets that serve you best in this moment, and watch as reality begins to take shape around you according to your expectations.