Theory of Expectations: The Exception & the Norm

In continuation to the Theory Reactions: the Exception & the Norm, let’s look a bit more in to the Exception.

An Exception, simply speaking, is something which does not happen too often in the normal course of events. It is a person, a thing or a situation which comes up no more than 5-10% of the times on an average day in our lives.

The question is what is the Exception dependent on? Is it constrained to something or is it universally true? Will we feel the same thing about Bill Gates after 25, maybe 50 years?
An Exception is usually dependent on two factors, the Time and the Place.

The Time Effect: Think of your childhood and that coolest kid who got the first Cassette Player and used to take you to his house to listen to the latest Backstreet Boys songs! Or maybe she/he didn’t take you. Think of a Cassette Player now and probably what you will think of is an obsolete machine of which you have fond memories but no one uses it anymore. There was a time when Cars were an Exception. Now a Rolls Royce is!

Things come and fade away with time. Fashion trends come and go, movie starts come and go, sports starts come and go. An Exception at this time may become a Norm at some other.

The Place Effect: Education, something most of us take for granted in this era, at least in cities is a huge Exception in many other places in our country, and in many countries in Africa for that matter. Schools for children are Exceptions in many places around the world. While someone like Katrina Kaif maybe a renowned person at a lot of places, you will always find places where people might not pay attention to a person of that stature.

Many things and situations which are easily noticeable at one part of the world are a commonplace at many others. An Exception at this place may be a Norm at some other.

Undoubtedly there may be exceptions to the Time and the Place effect. We speak of timeless personalities like the Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Newton, Gandhi and many others. They are then considered as Legends! Nonetheless, howsoever number of lives they have touched, think at how many places and at how many times they would be considered as an Exception and not maybe ignored as a Norm. Does each and every single person in the world know who Newton was?

Looking at the Time and Place effects, let’s take a look at what happens to us when we talk of an Exception.Expectations

Theory of Expectations: Sachin Tendulkar, while he played, was a legendary batsman. Similar such legend is Roger Federer when it comes to Tennis. After seeing them do their magic on the field, we start expecting such greatness from them every time they come to do their act. Similarly, a BMW 5 Series is just supposed to be great!

With multiple appearances of the same Exception – a person, situation or a thing in similar conditions, we start expecting similar results from it all the time. In a way we want it to remain an Exception. Take a look once again on the Exception-Norm Continuum.

Exception-Norm Continuum

If an Exception evokes a strong positive reaction, we expect it to evoke such reaction at all times. The same goes for the strong negative reaction. Our expectation from the negative reaction Exception remains negative.

This is why when a ‘good’ man does something evil, we start hating him more than when an average man does so. Similarly when a person who was imprisoned for a crime comes out, we still don’t want to get close to him because of the strong negative reaction which was already there.

Similar expectations are set in the mind when it comes to the Norm. A Norm is expected to remain a Norm and when she/he/it attempts to do something it is not ‘supposed’ to do, a reaction comes up in the mind and the body.

Think-it-over: Whenever something ‘unusual’ happens to an Exception or even to a Norm, think of what happens inside you. Think of where the expectation is coming from and how it is affected when such unusual event occurs. Considering the fact that the Exception is not eternal and is dependent on the Time and the Place, is it justified to have such strong expectations from it? Does an Exception always have to deliver the same result, positive or negative, or can it change?

Expectations break. Both the Exception and the Norm juggle from one point on the continuum to the other. Understanding the juggle as a part of life and not being affected by it too much is a great way to keep the mind calm and non-turbulent.