Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life

Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life

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by Christine Hassler

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When our expectations are met and things go according to plan, we feel a sense of accomplishment; we feel safe, in control, and on track. But when life does not live up to our expectations, we end up with an Expectation Hangover. This particular brand of disappointment is profoundly uncomfortable and can cost us valuable time and energy if not treated and…  See more details below


When our expectations are met and things go according to plan, we feel a sense of accomplishment; we feel safe, in control, and on track. But when life does not live up to our expectations, we end up with an Expectation Hangover. This particular brand of disappointment is profoundly uncomfortable and can cost us valuable time and energy if not treated and leveraged effectively.

Christine Hassler has broken down the complex and overwhelming experience of recovering from disappointment into a step-by-step treatment plan. This book reveals the formula for how to process Expectation Hangovers on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels to immediately ease suffering. Instead of wallowing in regret, self-recrimination, or anger, we can see these experiences as catalysts for profound transformation and doorways that open to possibility.

Often it is only when life throws us a curveball (or several) that we look in a different direction and make room for the kinds of unexpected things that lead more directly to a life we love. By the time you finish this book, you’ll understand why your Expectation Hangover happened and have your own treatment plan — a clear course of action to pursue your goals while preventing future disappointment.

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Editorial Reviews

Until we learn to take effective corrective measures, disappointment can become an infectious disease. According to self improvement specialist Christine Hassler (20 Something 20 Everything), those who suffer from what she calls "expectation hangovers" must learn to free themselves from never-ending cycle of self-doubt and self-recrimination. The measures that she recommends are radical: Instead of simply wrestling with past mistakes and misfortunes, she shows how readers can actually use them to become stronger and prepare for coming challenges that life is certain to bring.

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New World Library
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Expectation Hangover

Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life

By Christine Hassler

New World Library

Copyright © 2014 Christine Hassler
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-242-3



"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."

— Agatha Christie

I am no stranger to Expectation Hangovers.

Before the ink was dry on my college diploma, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of working in the entertainment industry. I was driven by a tremendous expectation of myself to be wildly successful to compensate for the insecurity I had been plagued with since childhood. By the ripe old age of twenty-five, I had an office with a view, an assistant who answered my phone, an expense account, a real salary, power lunches, television industry screenings, clients, and business cards. I dated and attended industry events. I even spent New Year's Eve with George Clooney — now there is a midnight kiss I will never forget! From the outside, it looked like I "had it all." There was just one problem: I was absolutely miserable.

Where were the happiness and worthiness I thought all my goals would deliver? Every day, I tried to talk myself into liking my job. I felt obligated to stay because I had worked so hard to get there, but I dreaded each day. I started getting migraines, rode up the elevator to work with knots in my stomach, and was irritable all the time. To save myself from a total meltdown, and others from the bitch I all of a sudden was becoming, I quit.

Leaving my prestigious career changed my external circumstances, but I still found myself miserable. Burned out and craving a total change of direction, I became a personal trainer — I thought it might be my "passion." Wrong again. I then had nine different jobs in two years, constantly searching for something that would make me feel better about myself. During that time, I went into thousands of dollars of debt; got diagnosed with an "unknown autoimmune disorder"; stopped speaking to my mother after I made a decision that did not fit her expectations of me; and got dumped by my fiancé six months before our wedding. So there I was, now at twenty-seven: heartbroken, in debt, sick, at odds with my family, and lacking direction in my career. Nothing had turned out the way I expected, despite my meticulous planning and overachieving. Major Expectation Hangover.

One pivotal night I found myself, for the first time ever, contemplating how I could end my life. That was a terrifying thought, but I felt so incredibly hopeless and lost I did not know what to do.

And then something happened.

Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, a wave of unconditional love and compassion flooded over me. Time stopped. My pain was replaced with comfort. I knew that everything was indeed happening for a reason. Unlike the past, when people used that cliché on me and I felt like punching them and screaming, "Well, I don't know what the freaking reason is, and this sucks!" this time I knew it to be true — even if I did not yet know the reason. The feeling of peace and connection only lasted an instant because my mind came in to try and figure it out; but the impact of that moment will last a lifetime. For the first time in my life, I felt like I experienced God — and I had my Expectation Hangover to thank for it.

At that point, I made myself a promise to dig in, look at my life, and figure out who I really was, what I really wanted, and how I was going to get it. I opened my mind to the possibility that somewhere in the midst of this Expectation Hangover there could be a blessing. The first blessing revealed itself two days later when I woke up with the idea for my first book, which launched my very unexpected career as an author, professional speaker, facilitator, life coach, and spiritual counselor. My biggest Expectation Hangover was the catalyst for stepping onto a career path that I absolutely love.

My quarter-life crisis was behind me, and I believed I was on my way to creating the life I wanted. I broke free of debt, healed my relationship with my mom, and regained my health. After years of searching, I found my true passion in terms of work. And after recovering from a broken heart, I married a man I loved deeply. My thirties were looking the way I thought they should. I finally "had it all." (Ha! How cute of my ego to think that.) Then another Expectation Hangover began to emerge. Everything I expected to make me happy had manifested, yet I still felt a deep sense of longing for something I couldn't define. It was a thirst that could not be quenched by a job or a man or a paycheck or a trip to Bali (I've taken three). This Expectation Hangover had a deeper message for me. I embarked on a journey of learning how to leverage disappointment — a journey that shook me to my core.

The most notable fallout of this shake-up was a divorce that catapulted me further into the Expectation Hangover, which became the most severe I had ever experienced. I agonized over whether to get divorced so much that I lost half the hair on my head. But in my heart I knew our marriage had an expiration date (you'll learn more about those later in the book).

When I was going through my divorce, someone said to me, "Christine, milk this time for all it's worth." That was one of the best pieces of advice I received. The thing about an Expectation Hangover is that it is never just about the issue we are currently feeling hungover about — it triggers all kinds of juicy stuff from our past that has not yet been resolved.

This thirty-something Expectation Hangover included the perceived failure of a marriage, financial insecurity, and having no children despite hearing the loud ticktock of my biological clock. But I milked it for all it was worth. While grieving the demise of my marriage, I dived back into work at an accelerated speed, sold the home I had renovated with my husband, and moved into a place of my own — all the while showing up for people as a coach and inspirational speaker, which was not easy in the midst of my own Expectation Hangover. I was dealing with the shame I had about my "failed" marriage and had to quiet the "Who am I to give advice when my own life is not turning out the way I planned?" judgments. What I realized is that I am one of the best people to be teaching about Expectation Hangovers because I learned how to move through each one and walk through those doorways of transformation that were opening all around me.

When I wrote previous books, I felt I had proven techniques for overcoming Expectation Hangovers because I had created certain external results. But my most recent Expectation Hangover was different. This time I don't have a "happy ending" that would "prove" I treated my hangover effectively. But I am happier than I've ever been before because I've freed myself from suffering even though my life doesn't look the way I expected it would.

Even the things that feel absolutely miserable are in service to our growth, learning, and healing. The cure to Expectation Hangovers is not to figure out another way to get what we thought we wanted, but rather to move out of our own way enough to see what we really need.

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves."

— Henry David Thoreau



"Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right."

— Sherrilyn Kenyon

We are all consumers of expectations. They are easy to come by — from parents, family, friends, the media — and many are self-created. Maybe it's to be successful, get married, have children, look good, make a difference, please others ... The list is endless, especially in today's world, where there are constant opportunities to compare ourselves to others and look for ways to be more, better, or different. Never before have expectations been so high in terms of what humans are capable of, and this creates a paradox of opportunity and pressure.

Expectations are pervasive in our lives, and most of us are conditioned to be driven by them and to attempt to realize them. But we didn't start out that way. We are all born in a state of pure Love where there are absolutely no expectations. Think of it as our "original innocence." When you were born, you knew these Truths: You are whole and complete. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are worthy and deserving. You can trust the Universe. You have a deep inner knowing. You are connected. All there is and all that matters is Love. You are Love.

And then you got older. And things happened that moved you out of love and into fear: someone criticized you; you only got praised for your accomplishments; someone left or wasn't there for you; you saw people fighting or got yelled at; your heart got broken; you were told your dreams were impossible; you felt incredible pressure to succeed; you got rejected; you made a mistake and judged yourself a failure; you compared yourself to others and believed they were better in some way. Or perhaps you had a blissful childhood and grew up expecting the adult world to be the same way. The moment you got your first reality check in the form of a disappointment was the moment you moved into fear.

When in the grip of fear, we experience disconnection and a sense of emptiness. The voice of our ego and the voices of others become much louder than our inner voice and Spirit, and we feel alone and separate. To manage the disconnection, we start to be driven by what we expect will make us feel loved again. To fill the emptiness, we create expectations of what we believe will fulfill us. Our expectations then become our compass, which often navigates us right into an Expectation Hangover.

"When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

— Alexander Graham Bell


You probably have a good sense of what an Expectation Hangover is by now, but here is my official definition: the myriad undesirable feelings, thoughts, and responses present when one or a combination of the following things occurs:

• Things don't turn out the way you thought, planned, or wanted them to.

• Things do turn out according to your plans and desires, but you don't feel the fulfillment you expected.

• You are unable to meet your personal and/or professional expectations.

• An undesired, unexpected event occurs that is in conflict with what you wanted or planned.

There are many different types of Expectation Hangover, but they usually fall into one of the following three categories:

Situational Expectation Hangovers. These occur when something does not turn out the way we wanted or we do not get the anticipated satisfaction from achieving a result. Michelle worked so hard to pursue a career in law, but it turned out to be nothing like she expected; she found herself dreading going to work each day. Jason spent over a decade at a company and was promised a hefty promotion but was laid off with no warning.

Interpersonal Expectation Hangovers. This kind of Expectation Hangover occurs when we are let down by someone else or unpleasantly surprised by the actions of another. Jeff got a call that his son, who had always been his pride and joy, was arrested for drug possession. Sarah went on what she thought was a fantastic date but never heard from the guy again.

Self-imposed Expectation Hangovers. These occur when we do not live up to the standards or goals we have set for ourselves. In other words, we are disappointed in ourselves and the results we've achieved or failed to achieve. Richard spent a year studying for the medical school entrance exam but did not score high enough to get into the school of his choice. Chelsea gave her first presentation at work and left feeling like she completely dropped the ball.

Although the cast of characters and specific circumstances of an Expectation Hangover vary, the symptoms are generally similar to those of a hangover from alcohol but far more miserable and lasting:

• lack of motivation

• depression

• anxiety

• regret

• physical discomfort

• confusion

• irritability

• self-judgment

• denial

• addictive behavior

• lethargy

• anger

• shame

• guilt

• poor work performance

• diminished creativity

• strained relationships

• faith crises

• social withdrawal

• wanting to stay in bed, turn off the lights, and pull the covers over your head

Our beliefs and self-talk fuel a lot of the symptoms we experience during an Expectation Hangover. When things don't go our way, it is natural to buy into debilitating thoughts like "I am not enough," "I did something wrong," "Everyone else is better than me," "I'll be alone forever," "I'll never be successful," "Things never work out for me," and so on. If something unexpected happens to disrupt the image of who we think we are, we squirm, complain, and attempt to control it because our sense of identity is threatened. Our self-esteem plummets, and we may begin to feel disconnected from a Higher Power, or even question its existence entirely. We get caught up in regretting the past or latching onto the idea of something in the future we think will make us feel better. We'll do anything to end our suffering — the problem is we just don't know what to do.


Identifying Your Expectation Hangovers

Now it's your turn to identify the Expectation Hangovers that are currently causing you the most suffering, by answering the following questions in your journal. For each yes, briefly describe the related Expectation Hangover and label it as situational, interpersonal, or self-imposed. Then, on a scale of 1 to 5, rate the level of disappointment it has caused (1 being bearable, 5 being tremendously painful).

1. Is there something in your life that did not turn out the way you planned?

2. Is there an aspect of your life that you are not enjoying even though you thought you would?

3. Is there someone in your life who let you down?

4. Is there a relationship that has taken a direction that is upsetting to you?

5. Are you disappointed because of something you have done or not done?

6. Do you regret a choice you made or an action you took?

7. Did something happen that caught you off guard and has left you scrambling or disrupted?

Before you considered these questions, you may have been aware of at least one major Expectation Hangover you have or had. Now you may realize there are several Expectation Hangovers you've been carrying around. Don't worry — once you know how to treat one, you will be able to navigate all disappointment with greater grace. For now, identify the Expectation Hangover you are suffering from the most. It will be one you rated high on the disappointment scale (or the one you rated highest if there's only one with the highest rating). That is the one to focus on first.

"Would it all be different if I had done things differently? Would I be different if I didn't place so much pressure on myself? I said I never had expectations, but this feeling of loss can only mean that I did, or do."

— Melanie

* * *


"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties."

— Francis Bacon

One of the most challenging parts of an Expectation Hangover is feeling that we've failed, that we haven't met the standards or goals we've set for ourselves — especially if we've poured our hearts into the attempt.

I spent three months putting together an online conference that I was passionate about. I conducted over thirty interviews, wrote tons of marketing materials and emails, produced a video, and hired a team of people. I truly expected 15,000 people to sign up for the conference. A week before the conference, we only had 2,500. I was so let down and could not figure out why we were not getting the results we'd expected. As I beat myself up and went into regret, thinking of everything I could have done or should have done, my Expectation Hangover got worse.

Yet I truly did love putting this project together. I had fun doing the interviews, met interesting new people, was enthusiastic about the subject matter, and produced a body of work I was proud of. But when the outcome wasn't what I'd expected, all of that went out the window, and I had an instant Expectation Hangover. Suddenly, the entire experience became about the destination and not the journey. Because my ego became obsessed with the numbers, I forgot about the joy, enthusiasm, and creativity that had lit up my soul.

"I had so many illusions about my dream of changing the world through music and meaningful lyrics, and suffered constantly from an Expectation Hangover about not being paid or recognized for it. I was so focused on the outcome that I lost sight of how much I enjoyed creating music."

— Leslie


Excerpted from Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler. Copyright © 2014 Christine Hassler. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Elisabeth_Harris More than 1 year ago
I was truly blessed to have an early divine appointment with Christine's new book! Christine's voice is clear and captivating, and she shares her insight on releasing and leveraging disappointment with amusement, grace, and compassion. She shares practical tools with a hint of spiritual guidance to help her readers dive into to a place of self reflection, self empowerment, and authenticity. Christine's book has helped me harness my own authenticity, gifts, and power and navigate through a most recent disappointment with great clarity and enthusiasm! Her book is a gift and an amazing guide to creating a life you love that is more aligned with who you really are.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Expectation Hangover is your own secret weapon to getting the most out of your day and life. We become distracted with disappointment and doubt ourselves and other, this book gives you the inspiration, tools and real world advice to overcome feelings that leave you stuck.
Angela_Syverson More than 1 year ago
This book helped me immensely in dealing with a major disappointment in my life. Not only does Christine reassure you that you are not alone and that you'll get through it, she also gives you a practical treatment plan to use when life throws us a curveball. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is feeling stuck, disillusioned or discouraged. 
Lulu1Trevena More than 1 year ago
This is a book you'll want to keep close handy and use often, let it get so used that it looks well loved. Whatever frustration comes up for you, you will see how attachment and expectation has been running the show. Whether you are new to 'designing' your life consciously or you have been doing so for 20 plus years this book is a gem. I am touched by the love and honesty Christine shares through out this delightful, and confronting at times book. Christine is clear, real and embraces you with heart wisdom where ever you are, what ever age, gender etc Gift yourself with this book.
LynnGilmartin More than 1 year ago
What an amazing book that anyone (and EVERYone) will benefit from. Christine really knows how to empower you to shift your perception and become your happiest, stress-free self. Not only does she share countless nuggets of gold, she makes them easy to implement with practical writing activities to help you work through each chapter. Get your highlighter ready for loads of AH-HA moments! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Expectation Hangover is a book for everyone! I don’t know anyone who hasn’t dealt with disappointment or life not turning out like they planned or hoped. One of my favorite things about this book is the FREE guided meditations that come with it. Christine’s voice sounds like a virtual hug and on days where I need a little extra support I tune in, breath and listen to her guidance. Also, I found the exercises in the book very helpful and the tools to help support me while I am moving through my disappointment. Thank you for writing this guide book. It has truly helped me in my journey and I can’t wait to share it with others too.