The Root of All Human Suffering is Attachment to Unrealistic Expectations

Tame the “unrealistic mind”

Thomas Oppong
4 min readSep 6, 2022


Photo: Alizade/Unsplash

Attachment is a prime source of all human suffering. Life is without disappointments. It’s natural. But when you consistently attach strong emotions to an outcome outside your control, you are setting yourself up for stress and burnout.

The word “attachment” can be applied to many human experiences, from romantic relationships to strong emotional bonds to family ties.

It is important to understand that attachment does not necessarily mean having an emotional bond with another person. It also does not mean being dependent on someone else for survival or well-being.

Instead, it means having a strong emotional connection with something — like a person, place, or thing — that you believe will bring you fulfilment, meaning and happiness. Don’t give anyone or anything that much power over your happiness.

Expectations” is a broad term that refers to anything or anyone we hold onto to make ourselves feel better or secure. If you believe that other people owe you something, you will be disappointed when they don’t deliver.

If you expect things to be done a certain way, you will be upset if they are done differently. If you expect people to be perfect, you will feel hurt and rejected when they aren’t. When we attach to unrealistic expectations of others, we create unnecessary suffering for ourselves. The more attached we are, the greater our suffering will be.

We become angry when other people do not fulfil our expectations; we become frustrated when other people do not meet our needs; we become depressed when other people do not treat us with kindness and respect; and we become anxious when other people fail to live up to our standards.

As attachment grows stronger and stronger, it can consume us completely until there is nothing left of ourselves; even our sense of self begins to disintegrate. Unrealistic expectations lead to anxiety, disappointment, stress and even depression if left unchecked.

Too many people look to others for validation, approval and good change. It’s a form of suffering we bring on ourselves. Our response to the many setbacks and human…



Thomas Oppong

Author | Habits, Philosophy & Psychology. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: