It’s your mindset that leads you to expect particular outcomes.
Expectations about what might happen will usually bring about that condition.
That old saying, “be careful what you wish for” could also be “be careful with what you expect.”
The book I’m currently reading is called The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World, by David Robson. I’m mentioning it here because understanding expectations fully can help with weight loss and many other human conditions.
The book is filled with anecdotes and scientific discoveries that the author uses to support the subject he’s discussing. It’s fascinating and I believe everyone who suffers from any kind of body issue would do well to read it thoroughly.
Later I’ll share an excerpt from the introduction of the book, but first I want to go over how expectations can actually cause problems in our lives.
How expectations can affect your mood
No one likes to feel down. But it’s kind of impossible to feel cheerful every day, isn’t it?
The trouble is, many people have the expectation they should feel joyful all the time. When they’re not, they feel there must be a problem with them or they’re broken somehow.
A psychologist called Iris Mauss discovered, the more people criticized themselves for having negative emotions or judged these emotions as “wrong”, the worse they felt. More depression, more anxiety, lower life satisfaction. On the other hand, people who accepted their feelings without judging them were much more psychologically healthy.
You’re going to have ups and downs. You’re human. Start accepting your feelings. It’s the single best way to feel better about your life. Practice gratitude and always feel grateful for what you have.
How expectations can sabotage willpower
Most people believe their willpower is limited and can only persist, focus or resist temptation for a short time.
But it’s interesting to note that it’s only true if we believe it to be true.
Veronika Job at the University of Vienna gave a number of subjects a boring test of concentration that was designed to stress their brains.
The people who believed willpower was limited, saw their performance decline over time — but those who didn’t
believe it showed no signs of fatigue at all. Isn’t that amazing?
In a follow-up study, she gave that first group a mini-lecture on how willpower wasn’t limited and had them take the test again. This time their accuracy doubled. The power of expectations is amazing.
Your brain can handle a lot more than you think. All those beliefs about limited willpower can hold you back. This isn’t just true during research lab studies just in case you were wondering.
Veronika had people keep a daily diary of the stresses they were under, their goals, and how much they strived. She found that having a non-limited vision of willpower almost gave people superpowers.
They were more productive, had higher expectations of themselves, and even recovered a lot faster after a tough day.
In fact, they were more productive after a tough day than their average day.
Greater challenges just further boosted their stamina and motivation.
You can handle a lot more than you think you can — as long as you believe you can handle more than you think you can.
Changing your expectations can make you perform better.
How your expectations can affect your weight
This is important for people who need to lose weight and keep it off.
You can change your situation merely by changing what you believe. What you’re aware of.
Patient H.M. is a famous case in neuroscience studies. He had a severe brain issue so he couldn’t make new memories.
If they fed him and then waited a few minutes until he forgot about it, he would eat an entire second meal. And both times he’d report the same level of satiation.
The point here is, memory plays an important part in eating. A much bigger part than we think. You may feel the limit is in your stomach but often it’s in your brain.
Studies show even mild forgetfulness is associated with overeating.
Professor and researcher Suzanne Higgs did a study where she offered students cookies. But if she first had them take a few minutes to remember everything they ate for lunch, they consumed 45% fewer cookies.
You can try this study yourself. Many times a day. Take a moment to think about how much you’ve already eaten and you’ll eat less.
And when you eat, pay attention. As I’ve mentioned before, when we have meals while doing other things, we tend to overeat.
It’s the same principle: if you don’t pay attention to how much you eat, it’s harder to remind yourself you’re not hungry.
You’re effectively transforming yourself into Patient H.M.
Enjoy your food. Notice your food. You’ll appreciate it more and you’ll eat less.
Excerpt from The Expectation Effect
This is an excerpt from the introduction of an excellent book everyone should read.
It’s called, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World, by David Robson
I’ve included it here to highlight just how important our expectations are.
“Our expectations are like the air we breathe. They accompany us everywhere, yet we are rarely conscious of their presence.
You might assume that your body is resilient, or that it is prone to sickness.
You might think you are naturally lean and sporty, or that you are predisposed to gaining weight.
You might believe that the stresses in your life are harming
your health, and that a night of poor sleep will render you a walking zombie the next day.
These assumptions may appear to be inescapable, objective truths. But in this book, I will show you how those beliefs, in themselves, shape your health and well-being in profound ways, and that learning to reset our expectations about these issues can have truly remarkable effects on our health, happiness, and productivity.
Don’t believe me?
Then consider one attention-grabbing study from Harvard University.
The participants were hotel cleaners, whose work is often physically intense yet feels very different from the exercise you might perform at the gym.
To change the cleaners’ perceptions of their own fitness, the researchers explained the amount of energy that was exerted by
vacuuming the floor, changing beds, or moving furniture—which, over the course of a week, easily amounts to the level of exercise recommended for good health.
One month later, the researchers found that the cleaners’
fitness had noticeably improved, with significant changes in their weight and blood pressure.
Quite amazingly, the shift in their beliefs about their
bodies, and their new expectations of their work, had brought about real physiological benefits—without any change in lifestyle.
We will discover how “expectation effects” like this can also influence our susceptibility to illness, our ability to maintain a stable body weight, and the short and long-term consequences of stress and insomnia.
As the stories in the book show, the power of expectation is so strong that it can even determine how long you live.”
Some final words
I haven’t finished the book yet but it’s quite amazing and changing the way I think about many things, not just weight loss.
There are so many interesting anecdotes in the book that’ll really get you thinking.
If you’re interested in finding out more you can find a link for the book in the show notes for this episode. Or do a search online.