In the last month I have been reminded of the pain of having expectations. We’ve all heard the saying: “No expectations. No disappointments.” And we know this one: “Never apologise for having high standards/expectations.” And “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.”
In the June Happy Notes Newsletter I explored the question of whether expectations are bad and if it is best not to have any. All spiritual traditions warn us about having expectations. Yet conflicting messages suggest that living life without expectations is like living passively, without direction or hope.
Either way, life without expectations seems impossible because some are so unconscious that you only know you had them when you feel disappointed. So, it is not really possible to not have any, ever.
For me, the answer lies in the nuances and how I work with expectations rather than wishing them away or suppressing them. While expectations are part of believing in what is possible and being proactive, they become restrictive as soon as we hold on to them for too long or too tightly (how we think life should unfold).
Can you expect/dream of a future AND then allow life to be just as it is?
- Rely on your expectations to show you when your ego has tangled you up knots by misinterpreting unmet expectations as failures (taking it all very personally) rather than necessary parts of the journey of finding more contrasts to help you create a life you love.
- “Live in alignment with who you really are – live in joy not fear. It’s supposed to be fun. We’re so free we can choose bondage. Choose joy. – Abraham Hicks”. That is, don’t take yourself so seriously, live more playfully. Life is like a pendulum, so expect to be in and then again out of alignment at times.
- Unmet expectations shake the ego. Rest in not knowing or living into questions rather than living by ego-driven blindspots. Live with curiosity and start by asking “I wonder if my expectations will be met?”, rather than “I hope that my expectations will be met.”
- Find acceptance with what is by 1) remembering that this is an endless journey and “Nothing went wrong” and 2) everything changes, so why add more suffering by holding on to what has or has not unfolded as you hoped.
I would love to hear your thoughts on expectations,