Read here the full transcript of award-winning psychologist Jennice Vilhauer’s TEDx Talk: Why You Don’t Get What You Want; It’s Not What You Expect at TEDxPeachtree conference. This event took place on November 13, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about the speaker, read the full bio here.
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Jennice Vilhauer – Psychologist
Raise your hands if you’d like to win the lottery. Keep your hand raised, if in the past month, you actually bought a lottery ticket.
You don’t need a psychologist to tell you why you didn’t buy those tickets you didn’t expect to win. Given the odds of winning the lottery, that might seem like a reasonable conclusion. But what’s important to learn here is that you act based on what you expect, not what you want. What you want and what you expect are completely different.
An expectation is a belief about whether or not you’re going to get what you want. As a psychologist that studies how people create their futures, one of the things I have learned that having an expectation that differs from what you want isn’t just the reason you don’t buy lottery tickets. It’s the reason why there are lots of things that you want, but you can’t quite seem to attain them.
expectation + action = creation of your life experiences
Losing that last five to ten pounds, going for that dream job or relationship, it’s the reason why no matter how hard you try to create change, you often stay stuck. Because expectation + action = creation of your life experiences. Now it might surprise you to know that most people go about their daily life thinking that they are acting on what they want, when in reality, they are acting on their expectations.
I was working with a client of mine recently. I’m going to call her Amy. She was a gorgeous and successful woman, but she was also sort of shy, very self-deprecating, and she had a history of picking the wrong men. Amy had recently gotten out of a bad marriage and she worked on herself, so she was ready to meet someone new. And she decided she was going to give online dating a try.
But she was having one bad date after the next. The men didn’t look like their pictures, they would forget their wallets. Some of them didn’t show up at all. One day, Amy comes into my office, and she immediately bursts into tears. “I had the most awful date of my life.”
“Well how bad was he?”
“He was amazing,” she said, “Absolutely everything I had been looking for.” She said, “I completely blew it. I was so certain this was going to be another bad date and a waste of my time, I told him to meet me for coffee after my yoga class. Didn’t have time to shower, just showed up in my gym clothes, hot and sweaty, no make-up. And there he was, Mr. Immaculately Groomed, tall and handsome, the perfect smile.”
She said, “I was so mortified, and self-conscious, I couldn’t even make eye contact. I just sat there, staring at the ground laughing nervously, until finally I told him I had to put more money in my parking meter, and then I left, without even saying goodbye.”