Why most people are unhappy after appraisal

Carl Rogers, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, suggested that our Self-concept – the frame upon which our personality is based – comprises of three aspects: Self-image – the way we see ourselves; Self-esteem – the value we place upon ourselves; and Ideal-self – the way we would like to become. And problems tend to occur when these three don’t overlap. Wow! Look back, look around or look inside, and you would find that this is essentially where the root of most intrapersonal & interpersonal problems is.

In a world where most of us have multiple images – private image, personal image, social image and virtual image – it is no surprise if our sense of self gets muddled. The result is a growing dissatisfaction due to discrepancy between what we expect, what we deserve and what we get. This leaves our personal & professional life affected adversely. Before we discuss this point in details, watch this video to get the gist of what we are discussing, why it is important, and how it is relevant in professional and personal context…



You heard right! Expectations alter perception. Our hopes shape the way we look at things, and rather than seeing reality as reality, we see an altogether different version of it. Then nothing is ‘right or wrong’ or ‘good or bad’, everything is ‘right or wrong’ or ‘good or bad’ in comparison to our expectations. This influences our receptiveness, analysis, discussion and decision-making. Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.

If we will look at our brain then we will find that actually thinking is an electrochemical process. And our brain is akin to a chemical factory. What we feel is because of secretion of various chemicals. One of these important chemicals is Dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical of desire. Dopamine cells lie deep within our brain in the region of midbrain, and are connected with neurons of a brain-part called nucleus accumbens.

Interestingly, when some cue in the environment indicates that we are about to get a reward then these dopamine cells fire-off and dopamine gets released in response. And the resultant feeling is thrilling. And the most important point is that unexpected rewards release more dopamine than expected ones. And yes, if you are expecting a reward and you don’t get it then dopamine levels fall steeply. It’s quite an unpleasant feeling – frustrating and upsetting – a lot like pain.

So when you already anticipate a positive reward to great extent, not only the thrilling value of that reward drops, but also, in case of not getting that reward, a steep fall of dopamine levels is sure, and so is the resulting frustration. Well, that’s why it is better to minimize expectations, keep scope for receptiveness and maintain an even keel about potential rewards. Else, the probability of resistance and reactiveness is bound to go up. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed.

This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s understanding of the constitution and working of human brain, and how they have the all-important impact on our behavior and decisions. This coming together of neuroscience and psychology sets the foundation for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“Expectations alter perception”.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.