The case for setting yourself up for disappointment
Living with high standards and high expectations
Popular wisdom tell us that you should have high standards and low expectations. This is supposed to be a recipe for a good life.
For the last two weeks, I have been going against popular wisdom and testing this hypothesis — What if you have high standards and expectations? What if you set yourself up for disappointment?
Like the good social scientist that I am, this prefaced this hypothesis with relevant academic literature and examined the scholarship of Ian Craib and read his seminal work ‘The Importance of Disappointment’.
Some part of us wants immediate satisfaction, wants it all and wants it now, and whilst we might try to rationalise this away with our knowledge that it is unreasonable, our gut reactions belie our heads … I spend my life surrounded by other people, who are more or less independent of me and constantly doing things on their account. As a consequence, I have to adjust to them. If I am to control my own life, then I will first have to control the lives of all those around me.
Ian Craib, The Importance of Disappointment
Ian Craib was an English sociologist and psychotherapist. His work often focused on the intersections between sociology and psychoanalysis, exploring how the individual's inner world intersects with social structures and dynamics. Craib's working-class origins influenced his understanding of class systems and the politics of power. His writing style is characterized by its clarity and accessibility, making complex theories and ideas more approachable for readers.
In The Importance of Disappointment Craib argues that ‘disappointment’ is an integral aspect of human life which increasingly finds itself denied by dominant tendencies within anglo-american culture. His unique understanding of sociology and psychotherapy is evident in his understanding of the post-modern human condition. For him disappointment is an inherent part of the human condition, arising from the gap between our expectations and reality. Rather than viewing disappointment as a negative experience, Craib suggests embracing it as a catalyst for self-reflection and transformation.