Michele Attias Life Coach

How Astonishment Trumps Expectation (Every Time)

If I had to reflect on one main issue which underpins the general dissatisfaction and frustration which clients feel when they come for coaching sessions.

It's their unreasonable level of expectation.

They expect life as it stands to be different and can't comprehend why they constantly feel so deflated and downtrodden.

When writing this blog, I figured it would be interesting to read Wikipedias definition of the word expectation. Wikipedia states that expectation means, 'A belief that is centred in the future which may or may not be realistic, this then gives rise to the emotion of dissapointment'.

As I checked the opposite meaning of expectation, To my surprise, the word 'astonishment’ flashed up on my computer screen.

After my initial hesitation to the word 'astonishment', I realised that it makes complete sense. This is  because the moment you suspend your expectation and step out of the dialogue of what 'should be' expected, you can then become fully present to the world around you. 

This leaves the door open for you to experience gratitude, astonishment and wonder for what you have, right here, right now.

You stop looking outside to see how the world can give you your 'entitlement package'.  By dropping this, your whole internal world shifts in a different direction and this can have monumental results. Expectations on the other hand, don't allow you to stay in the moment, or be fully present.

Instead you're either focused on the past and what should have been  or running after a none existent future. 

When I speak to clients there is the dialogue of expectations under every sentence,

  • My boss should be different
  • I should be married by now
  • My children should behave
  • My team should respect me

Expectations weigh in like a lead balloon, the balloon everyone else is left holding. We all know that it’s not great being at the receiving end of this.

It's frankly, exhausting.

Expectations are a way of making you feel safe as you create your own rules of how life, people, society and work needs to be. Everyone then needs to keep to it (even if they don’t know what you’re expecting), which can lead to anger, dissapointment and resentment. You feel let down and focus on how if only others would fulfil your expectations your world would be intact, neatly packaged, no nasty surprises or confrontations.

Expectation ensures an illusion of control and knowing what will happen next.

Most of the time those close to you don't even know what you're expecting of them, but you scowl, frown and complain in a passive, aggressive way.  It's never good enough and is a way of passing the buck rather than taking responsibility for creating what you want or communicating to others clearly what you're expecting.

We all have a choice to communicate and create agreements with people so they know what our expectations are. You can then renegotiate if need be. The great thing about this is that everything is out in the open, you can know in advance what to expect and what not to.

Works the same with your life.

Take a long, hard look at your life and if what you expected hasn’t happened, you now have two choices. You can continue to go round in circles focusing on the life you should be entitled to, or you could step out and start creating from hereon with what life has given you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • If what I wanted isn’t in my life, how have I kept it away?
  • What choices did I make along the way, that evolved into my currently reality?
  • How do I need to show up in relationships, work or life that would take me one step further to what I desire?

This moves you away from the expectation and into the realm of taking responsibility. Move away from  consistently digging the 'expectation hole' as there's nothing you will find there.

Moving swiftly to astonishment.

The moment you stop expecting and looking far ahead, by enjoying the present moment, life looks completely different.  Imagine wearing a pair of blue tinted sunglasses and this is replaced by pink tinted sunglasses.

How different would life look through the lens then? The outside world is essentially  the same, but it's being experiencing differently. The different colour transforms all you see.

When I coach clients to create extraordinary lives and to live with a feeling of astonishment, what I really do is  coach clients to be astonished through life, no matter what has transpired externally.  This transforms their world and everything they create.

In bringing astonishment and wonder into my own life, it transformed everything I experienced.  Despite my external circumstances, which had previously encased me in the cycle of entitlement and expectation.

I recommend you start to shift your focus as life will have such a different colour, flavour and feel to it.

How to shift from Expectations to Astonishment:


Make this a daily practice, where you show gratitude for all the aspects of your life you take for granted. it will transform how you view your current circumstances.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is one of the best books I've found that incorporate a sense of wonder and astonishment before 8am. The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle is a also a great book about being present and showing gratitude. Commit to transforming your early mornings, I can promise you that this will impact how you show up for the rest of the day.

Volunteer work

This ensures you begin to cultivate a feeling of giving back to the community, as well as speaking to people who have overcome huge hurdles whilst having limited resources in their own lives.

I recently encouraged a coaching client to volunteer for the elderly. He expected other people to love him and was constantly feeling empty inside and dissapointed. I arranged a volunteer placement for  him to show that he needed to give love, rather than expecting to receive it.

To his amazement (and mine) he came back transformed. He realised he had so much love to give and had so enjoyed loving the elderly, listening to their inspiring stories and serving them dinner. He realised how much joy is in giving and that his life needed to be more about giving to others rather than expecting.


Spend quality time in silence - Even 5 minutes early morning can make a world of difference.

Meditating, going inward, breathing deeply and connecting to your core will bring acceptance and surrender to what you expect.

Resist the temptation to be on your phone reacting to every message.  Instead take a walk in silence and observe the world around you as you do so. You'll be amazed at how attuned you will be to every tiny noise, from the birds, leaves rustling, to the traffic driving by. This brings about presence, gratitude, astonishment and wonder to your day.

Essentially if you're expecting more love, start by giving more love. If you're expecting others to treat you as if you're worthy, behave as if you are.  When you change your belief and expectation that the external world needs to provide you with what you want, you lower your sense of entitlement, this releases you from a feeling of expectation to one of astonishment, wonder, fulfilment and joy

Self Development
Life Coaching
Life Changes
Lifestyle Coaching; business coaching; personal development; personal growth;