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Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler

Book Review by Becky Mollenkamp, Certified Life Coach Practitioner

For many people it is not their lack of commitment or capability that are barriers to their success, its expectations. Below is a book review by @Becky Mollenkamp of “Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself from your Past, Change Your Present & Get What You Really Want” by Christine Hassler. In Becky’s review she highlights the key points of Expectation Hangover and how to utilize the book when coaching others that are battling expectations. I hope you find this as a useful resource to add to your coaching toolbox.

Book Reviewer: Becky Mollenkamp, Certified Life Coach Practitioner

Book Title: “Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself from your Past, Change Your Present & Get What You Really Want”

Author: Christine Hassler

Key Points:

Section 1 of the book is called Expectations and the author explains what an “expectation hangover” means. She defines it as “the myriad undesirable feelings, thoughts, and responses present when one or a combination of things occurs.” Those things include:

● When things don’t turn out as you wanted or planned.

● They do turn out but you don’t feel as fulfilled as you expected.

● You’re unable to meet your personal or professional expectations.

These hangovers can fuel negative self-talk and regret, she says.

To begin letting go of expectations (and the emotional hangovers they create), she says we need to learn 4 key lessons:

● We don’t have control over results, but we can control our responses.

● Comfort zones don’t feel comfortable because they are healthy, but because they are familiar and reinforce the illusion of control.

● What we seek isn’t “out there” but inside ourselves.

● The world doesn’t revolve around us, and test and trials are really just gifts and teachings.

What doesn’t work to fix an expectation hangover, she says, are distraction, numbing the paint, being strong, pep talks, or trying to jump right to the blessing without doing the work to facilitate the learning the creates lasting change.

Section 2 of the book is called Treatment Plan and outlines how to reduce the severity and length of expectation hangovers, and how to use them as opportunities for learning and growth. This section is jam-packed with useful tools, especially journaling exercises to help you work through expectation hangovers. Every hangover and resolution, she says, has four levels—emotional, mental, behavioral, and spiritual.

On the emotional level, we must get comfortable feeling the emotions of our expectation hangover instead of minimizing or suppressing them—and coaching can provide a safe space to do so. On the mental level, we need to learn to see the difference between what is real and the story we are telling ourselves. On the behavioral level, we must actively participate in life rather than from a place of habitual behaviors and responses. On the spiritual level, the more connected we feel to a higher power, the easier it is to release expectations.

Section 3 of the book is called Prevention. It is the shortest section of the book. It’s not about preventing expectation hangovers from ever happening (that’s not realistic, she says), but instead about managing expectations. She talks about how to set goals based on involvement and attachment (high involvement and low attachment is the key to reducing expectation hangovers).

She also touches briefly in this section on the importance of letting go of people pleasing and comparison, and on being of service, curious, and grateful.

Application to life coaching:

Many people seek life coaching because they feel frustrated with where they are in life. They are disappointed that things haven’t gone as they’d hoped; they may feel regret or worry about making more decisions for fear of making the same mistakes.

This book is really at the heart of what life coaching is about—letting go of the past, but mostly focusing on the future to get what you want. It deals with many of the common issues clients have and offers practical tools for helping clients break unhelpful patterns and rewrite their personal narrative so they can create the life they really want.

Favorite passage & why: “Anything we keep inside because we judge it as dark is transformed the moment we bring it into the light. In moments of vulnerability, where we are being fully authentic by sharing our innermost experience, healing can occur” (page 64).

I love this passage, which is in the section called “The Power of Vulnerability,” because my own life completely transformed when I learned that vulnerability takes strength and is not a sign of weakness.

She says that vulnerability is a currency that makes us wealthy in love and connection, and I couldn’t agree more. It is because of vulnerability that I was able to heal myself, and it helped me realize I wanted to become a life coach to help others do the same for themselves.

How to apply key messages to coaching:

This book is filled with dozens of really useful tools to use with clients, if they are open to using them. There is an exercise to help you identify your past expectation hangovers so you can begin to understand what they are and look for patterns. There’s another to help you assess how you’ve managed each past hangover so you can use later exercises in the book to come up with new ways of treating them. There are also several guided visualizations.

My favorite exercises, which I have already used with several clients, is called Your Storyboard. It involves having clients create a timeline with birth at one end and present day on the other. Clients write all significant life events along the timeline and the beliefs they formed because of each. It’s a powerful way to identify limiting beliefs that have been repeating throughout the years. This recognition alone is often enough for my clients to break the patterns.

What’s really great about this book for life coaches is it includes so many questions that can be immediately integrated into a coaching practice to help clients who are having issues related to expectations/disappointment. Some of my favorites include:

  • What actions have you taken or not taken because of this situation?

  • What are you judging about this situation?

  • What were you told about (emotion)?

  • What beliefs do you think you’ve formed about expressing (emotion)?

  • What new belief could you have that would create a sense of peace or excitement?


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