Expectations! The name of the dramatic, action, romance story we’ve written in our heads, and live everyday unconsciously trying to make real. They fill us with false hope, as we feel that anything that comes into our lives must live up to this tale of life we’ve already written. And if things don't we start asking why the world is such an unfair and selfish place for not following the plot and structure of our own personal story.
Our Expectations are a cliff we willingly hang by our finger tips from, and then wonder why no one stops to pulls us up, because hey, we'd Expect someone too, right?! But we forget that everyone else is caught up in their own lives, their own Expectations, and maybe everyone who passes us by and sees us hanging from that cliff is also Expecting someone else to pull us up, because hey, 'we'd Expect to right?'
We need to let go of our Expectations to live free, open and clear minded in the moment. We need to let go of that cliff and free fall into the uncertainty of life, and the beauty of 'not Expecting.'
But OK, let’s be real, Expectations are a naturals, not good or bad but simply a part of who we are. And the reality is that everyday life constantly re-enforces our ability to create, and hold on to, Expectations.
And why should we let go of them?
Am I saying we should stop Expecting friends and family to love us? Stop Expecting our lovers to be faithful? Should we say, ‘I am now living in the moment, I don’t Expect anything from anyone, and they should not Expect anything from me.’
To live in a world where everyone is simply living for the moment sounds like some Hippy paradise where there are no consequences for our actions, no need to give back to someone who has given to us, and where no real connections are ever made.
So how and why should we let our Expectations go?
The why of it:
Because our Expectations are blinding us to the truth, and causing us unnecessary stress and pain.
Why do people stay in relationships that are bad for them? A big reason is because they are holding on to the Expectations of love they have in their head; sometimes good ones, sometimes bad one.
Our Expectations stop us seeing that we are maybe not happy in our job, that maybe certain friends are not as close to us as we thought they were, or that the life we are leading is not truly the life we want to live.
Expectations are the things that keep us dwelling in the past, and fixated so much on the future, pulling us away the present.
Expectations are the reason we don’t understand why someone treats us the way they do, why the world is the way it is, and why certain things never seem to work out for us.
Expectations are the reason we make the same mistakes over and over again. Because we blindly continue to follow the Expectations we have, trying to make our story reality, instead of actually acknowledging the truth of the reality in front of us, and dealing with it.
And no, I am not saying that if someone cheats on us, or is a shitty friend, we should let it go, and allow them full access to our love and friendship the next time, because we have no Expectations. Some people are utter douche bags.
What I am saying is that if we let go of our Expectations we can stop asking, ‘why is this person like this?’ and instead acknowledge and accept that ‘this is who they are, this is their true self.’ And based on that we can then decide how, or if, we want them in our life. Our decisions become clearer, and we can make choices that actually, and truly, progress the state of our happiness.
Now the question of: ‘how do we get rid of our Expectations?’
The answer is easy but just hard to swallow: We have to stop being afraid of people disappointing us.
Our Expectations are like a self defence mechanism that protects us emotionally, set in place to escape the crappy feeling of disappointment. We’re scared as hell of realising that maybe none of our friends are really our friends, that our lover doesn’t truly love us, or that the world is truly a crappy, selfish place. So we hold on to our Expectations because they are a more comforting thought than the thought of being alone and unloved in a cruel, selfish world.
We don’t want to believe that our lover cheated on us because they never truly loved us in the first place. We don’t want to believe that our friends let us down because they never truly were our friends to begin with. We don’t want to feel the crushing disappointment that reality can be, showing us that all our dreams, relationships, jobs, goals and desires are not what we hoped they would be. But once we get over the fear of disappointment we realise that even though Reality is a scary thing, it’s only scary as long as we are afraid to face it.
When I realised that the answer to getting rid of my Expectations was to accept people for who they were, it truly felt like freedom! Even though it meant that people didn’t live up to the position I had given them in my life, it was still freeing. It was freeing because I was able to truly face the reality of my life and see it clearly. And being able to do this meant that I could truly see what I actually wanted and how and where to get it from. I was free to finally stop chasing Expectations, and instead take any path I chose. Don’t get me wrong, it can suck! It is hard to actually accept that someone who I thought had a major part in my life, and heart, actually didn’t. That they only got that major part because I tried to make them fill a role of an essential character in my story. But it only sucks for a moment, because it’s like the blinders come off and you suddenly see the world and all the possibilities in it that you were over looking.
I realised how limited the story I wrote through my Expectations was, and I got to throw away that narrative, stretch out my fingers, get some snacks, put on some music, and begin to write a brand new story, with no Expectations of the end but simply enjoying the freedom of life unfolding in the moment.
Now there is the added question of: why should we do any of this if everyone else will still be caught up in their Expectations, still trying to make us a supporting character in their story.
Firstly, that is again Expecting everyone else to be like we want them to, and we’ve just let go of those Expectations ;)
Secondly, I’m just saying we should give it some thought, because to me it’s very simply; it’s about getting off the merry-go-round that everyone else is unknowingly stuck on. It’s about becoming aware and stepping out of that cycle, because to step out of it and view it as an observer, no longer controlled by the same emotional trappings that everyone else is, well, that my friend I call Freedom!
We can never truly kick habit of Expectations. But the key isn’t to erase them but to become, and stay, aware of when them. And then to practice this awareness and release of Expectation everyday until it becomes instinctive and natural to us.
The more aware we become of our Expectations the easier it becomes to stop them from controlling us.
There will always be the struggle to let go, especially with feelings as intense and strong as the desire for love and happiness. But it’s just about minimizing the extent of that struggle over time, until it’s no longer a struggle but simply a natural process we go through, becoming our way of being.
So lets stop Expecting, and start Living!