You know what is really amusing to me at this moment? Simply by virtue of delaying this post (unintentionally), the aspect of letting go that I am about to tackle has already been proven – expectation. I cannot tell you how many people in the last week have uttered a question similar to this one – “where part 2 to part 1 …me ah wait so long jack!”. The speaker of those words knows herself. Yet another has “peddled” by my page daily “looking for reading material”. Therein lies the problem with expectation. Expectation presumes that a desired action, effect, thing must become reality as envisioned and within a time frame imagined by the holder of said expectation. I digress though. This was not how this post was supposed to start but since receiving another “where is part 2?” prompt just this evening, I decided to begin with this prelude.
Holding firm to specific expectations is the main cause of disappointment. It took me some time to learn this, but over the last 10 years the understanding of this simple concept has added years to my life. To put it simply – I no longer stress, or waste precious mental energy about things that are: out of my control, not my business, and not my responsibility. While I believe that we must and should show up fully for people, issues and initiatives that are dear to us, what I have learned is that there comes a point when stepping back and in some cases stepping out..is essential. Knowing when you have reached that point is usually the crucial factor.
Some years ago, I came across the author and spiritual teacher Eckart Tolle. Before he was as well known as he is today, his book “A New Earth” called to me from an airport book stand. By the time this book came across my path, I had already started an inner transformation of sorts. It is often said “when the student is willing, the Master appears.” Since reading this book, it has become akin to my personal bible – a resource – on how to live fully; with tranquility, in flow, and open to bliss. The following ideas resonated most with me and have been most useful along my daily journey.
Non-Resistance, Non-Judgement and Non-Attachment are the three aspects of enlightened living. – Eckhart Tolle
These three things related and intertwined. I mention them because they are instrumental to releasing expectations.
Have you ever been second in line at a traffic light? The light has barely changed from red to green. You hear a sound and think..err “no, it can’t be”. Two to three cars behind you, there is some *hole (that was just a judgement call…my bad …hope you are not the one) beeping when the light has barely changed and you are not even the person at the light. (My road rager friends…I see you!) Usually, when this happens, i have a fleeting thought about non-resistance and non-judgement. More often than not, after a brief glance in the rear view mirror, I continue singing along to whatever song is playing in the car having mentally dismissed “road rager”. This is non-resistance in action. Your next action or RE-action is a choice.
We are surrounded by expectations from our friends, relatives, significant others and even our selves. You are the driver as it concerns managing these expectations. If we could turn expectations into desires and hopes, chances are our lives would feel lighter and less burdened by the things over which we and other people obsess.There are many differences between expectation and hope but for me the main difference lies in the probability of a negative vs. positive sentiment depending on the outcome. Imagine this scenario: A special event approaches in your life. You EXPECT that because your family and friends are knowledgeable of this event that means so much to YOU, something spectacular is being planned. Your expectation is not met. You are disappointed. (think tears, overthinking, mental rumination about the relationships in your life, days flirting with the cliff of depression,) If however you hope for something but you are not too ATTACHED to the outcome you will not experience anything akin to dashed hopes. Imagine the alternative though…your hopes are moderate to none (because you are grateful for life itself…) and then something totally unexpected and amazing happens – you are elated, happy, humbled, genuinely grateful. For a person who constantly relies on their expectations being met by others there is a certain pressure of necessary fulfillment that in itself creates the unintended consequences of discomfort, anger, sadness, – disappointment. Resist the set up and release others from same.
Here are just a few of the many expectations that continue to pop up in my life:
When I was a little girl my parents had a habit of reminding me in a plethora of ways that I did not fit into the normal standards set for little girls. I learned that I was expected to be slim, svelte, small and unimposing.
As a teenager, I learned that in order to be “liked”, one was expected to serve a variety of faces and actions that are essentially unlike the real you, depending on the situation and people involved.
As a media personality, I learned that people expected me to be perpetually pleasant, talkative, extroverted…oh! and apparently tall and skinny. (go figure…*shrug*) In reality, I am quite reserved. I have never met an empty beach that I didn’t love, or a tranquil space that I didn’t want to inhabit for days. I like to observe before I decide how to engage.
As a teacher, I expected my students to be really focused and dedicated. (Disappointed sooooooooo many times!).
As a woman who wore locks for years, I learned that I was expected to never even think of cutting my locks. For some, it was the most heinous and disappointing crime “how COULD you??” – Yes those were actual words said to me two days ago. (but that is for another post) I must admit that for a moment I hesitated to cut because I did think about what people would say. That lasted about a minute.
As a woman who chose to get married, I expected to stay married. Funny thing right? I realised recently though that I was also expected to feel some sort of shame and embarrassment when I chose to leave said marriage. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
Finally, in recent years, since walking into the world of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned that many people expect failure, some expect you to sell your soul for that golden opportunity, others expect you to suddenly become a pro at ass kissing (Momma did NOT teach me that one), and still others expect you to know your place in the grand scheme of things. NO can do. To each his/her own I say.
It is possible and probable that throughout the course of this life, my friends, family, colleagues and even strangers have felt disappointed by actions or the lack of action on my part. What is certain though is that I have disappointed myself far more by trying to live according to the expectations of others. As I end this post I will admit that there is one expectation that I hold;It is that we all understand that no two people inhabit the same body or brain. As such, having hopes and desires without clinging to same makes for a more enjoyable life experience. Im not holding my breath though.
Thanks so much for reading. Id love to hear your thoughts. What sort of expectations have been like clouds over your head and what expectations do you thrust onto others?
This post was supposed to be about “Letting go of expectations and O.P.P.” but i have since decided to tackle O.P.P. in the upcoming post. I invite you to look out for Letting go of O.P.P – (Other People’s Perceptions)- the third installment in this four part exploration of Letting Go…
P.S. Disclaimer: (Because its really annoying me…my keyboard has issues