If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that we need to let go of our expectations. When we expect things to happen, to be, or go a certain way we end up creating images in our minds of what it is that we expect. We hold onto these images and then when reality sets in and we don’t obtain or experience what we were expecting (and more specifically. the details of HOW we expected it), we set ourselves up for disappointment. This can bring sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, and a whole boatload of other negative emotions into our lives and slowly begin picking away at us, at our relationships, and even at our dreams.
I grew up with my mother telling me “Expect the best, hope for the worst” and as I sit here now, a grown woman who has had more than her share of dark days and disappointments, I think about that saying and I feel it more appropriate to change it to “Expect nothing, hope for the best!” as I feel that is more fitting for a healthy mind and a happy life.
How do expectations harm us?
Simply put, and as previously mentioned, they set us up for disappointment. I firmly believe, one of the greatest causes of our own personal misery is due to our insatiable need to expect things. Our expectations often exceed our reality and this is why we end up buried under a pile of negative emotions a lot of the time.
An example of this is when we enter into relationships. There are plenty of reasons why relationships fail and why divorce rates are so high. We don’t connect like we used to. And we expect too much. Generally speaking, it seems we don’t fall in love with people for who they actually are anymore. We fall in love with the idea that we’ve created of them, the expectation we have of them in our own minds. And when they don’t live up to those expectations, that’s when the relationship falls apart and dies.
You should, instead, see your partner for who they really are. Let go of all the expectations you hold onto, the ones you created for them. Pay attention to every aspect of who they are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Then ask yourself… Why do you love this person? Do you love this person? Can you love this person?
The couples that last, the happiest of couples. They are the ones who’ve let go of expectations and who see their partner for who they really are – and they continue to love them just the same.
GOALS vs EXPECTATIONS
We hold these same expectations for a lot of different aspects of our lives. Relationships, careers, and more importantly – our own selves. We should have goals in life, not expectations. The goal is to be in a happy, healthy relationship. The goal is to have a career you love. The goal is to love yourself and to be healthy. This is where we get confused… We cannot expect a happy and healthy relationship. We cannot expect a career we love. We cannot expect self-love and health. But yet, we do expect these things… Why?
Goals are something we want to achieve. Something we work hard for. Something we are proud of and willingly put most of our energy into.
Expectations can be loosely boiled down to entitlement issues. We don’t work hard for expectations because we feel that we are entitled to them. We expect them. We put zero energy into manifesting many of our expectations and it’s not often that we find ourselves proud of expectations.
CHANGING THE MIND
Release yourself of expectations. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? With a little work and bunch of consistency – it’s not really that bad, to be honest.
When I was going through my period of growth and self-discovery after my marriage ended, I often thought about all the disappointments in my life and most of them boiled down to my expectations. Did I love my ex-husband for who he really was? I can say now, that no, I didn’t. I love him for who I thought he COULD BE. I loved the image I created in my mind about who he was. And I loved that image so much that I allowed him a free pass to be abusive towards me. My expectations of who I thought he could be blinded me to who he really was and as such, I suffered through the abuse not understanding why it was happening. That’s where my expectations led me.
Changing the mind requires a level of discipline that is not overly difficult to condition yourself to. Know the difference between expectations, hope, and goals. You can hope for something without expecting it. You cannot attain a goal through expectations. When you begin to feel the mind creating expectations, shut it down. If you have 5 minutes to spare, meditate the expectation away.
When you no longer expect things to go a certain way or for people to be a certain way, or for a job to pan out in a certain way, only when you have truly let go of all these expectations for your life – you will attain a small amount of happiness, joy, and peace. It is probably one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself, your family, and your relationships in order to be both happier and healthier.