Many schools of thought these days recommend releasing expectation, and thereby freeing ourselves. As most of us know, this is easier said than done. Personally, I think that expectation is the cause of much of the misery in the world today.
When I was a teenager I remember meeting a young woman who was grieving for the loss of her life. Her life was dancing, and she had trained for many years to be a ballerina – her expectations were high and she had this big career all mapped out in her head. Her ultimate goal! Then the unexpected happened – she had an accident and injured her foot so badly that she would never be able to do pointe work. As far as she was concerned her life was essentially over.
How many people have been on a diet and been ‘really good’, but then hop on the scales at the end of the week to discover that have only lost 1lb, when they were sure they should have lost 2 or 3? How many have then felt the desperation and inner disgust that somehow they can’t achieve what others seem to do effortlessly, and that somehow they are doing something wrong? How much happier they would have been if they had concentrated on health rather than weight and embraced any loss as a step in the right direction!
Then there is the serious matter of expectation of illness, as in ‘cancer runs in my family, so I will probably get it’ (substitute the word cancer for any illness of choice). The expectation of the illness, metaphorically keeping the door open for it to arrive, like an unwelcome but expected visitor, weakens us – it puts us into victim mode. Almost as though there is nothing we can do and that illness is a foregone conclusion. A better way to look at it would be to acknowledge that our family has a susceptibility to a certain illness, and then examine the diet and lifestyle of the people who have had it – which has often caused it in the beginning. By becoming more vigilant, we can often break the chain which means that our children won’t be brought up with that same expectation.
The mind is a powerful thing and, if it isn’t used correctly, it can have devastating effects on the body. I remember reading about a woman expressing concern that her brother would die when he was 41. On asking why, she said that all the male members of her family died at that age, going back several generations, so there was a strong expectation and ‘family knowledge’ that this would happen. Sure enough, her brother who had apparently been in good health, suddenly died before his 42nd birthday – as predicted. When asked about the female members of her family, she responded with confidence – oh, it never happens to us!
We go to school, college and/or university and are told that if we work hard then we will have a well-paid and fulfilling job. When I left school the expectation was that I would have to work my way up the ranks for many years before reaching the pinnacle – whatever that might be! The expectation was that I would take a particular route (in those days the routes for women were predominantly secretarial, nursing or domestic science!) and plug away at it until I retired. Unless I got married of course and had the expected children. I remember being refused employment once, not because I wasn’t qualified for the job, but because I was newly engaged and would ‘obviously’ be getting pregnant within a year or so and they didn’t want to have to employ someone else at that time. This might even happen these days – but employers would be less likely to express the idea in fear of legal action!
It’s very different these days and people leaving education will either have the expectation that there are no jobs to be had, so why bother. Or, they will expect to be able to live a laptop lifestyle, travelling the world, or at least be seriously wealthy by the time they are 30. I’m obviously generalising here, but you get the drift. The expectation has changed from belief in a long hard trek to the top of a profession, to almost instant gratification over the space of a few years.
The danger is that expectations become belief systems – which then become very hard to break!
Both physical and mental expectations tie very closely into the emotional ones – the emotions are what cement the belief systems and cause the ultimate pain and sorrow when expectations don’t materialise.
How many people give love and affection to someone, in the expectation that they will receive equal love and affection back?
How many marriages don’t live up to expectation? The ‘happy ever after’ being replaced by the mundane every day events, which is a natural progression after all. Initial expectations of any relationship can often be too high to be comfortably lived with on a day to day level. If divorce rears its head there is often a deep sense of failure attached to it, rather than recognition that people change from day to day due to their personal experiences, so the person who we married a few years ago won’t be the same person we are married to today – and vice versa. The question is, can we grow together and release our expectations – or at least update them?
We have a habit of emotionally attaching ourselves to outcomes of all sorts:
- Has our child/parent shown by word or deed how much they love and appreciate us?
- Has our favourite entertainer let us down by not dressing well enough, not writing a better song or being caught in inappropriate behaviour?
- Has our chosen spiritual/religious leader shown that they have feet of clay, or changed their own beliefs?
- Has our favourite team won their game?
- Has the ‘wrong person’ won that talent contest?
- Has someone else got the job that we believed had our name written on it?
- Has someone had the temerity to disagree or disobey us when ‘we know’ that we are better informed than them?
All this emotional input, which is dependent on other people fitting in to our own expectations, is exhausting. The only person we can control is ourselves, and we would be much happier if we focused on that and let other people do their own thing!
Imagine how much happier we would all be if we didn’t attach our happiness to someone else’s actions. We ultimately aren’t, or shouldn’t be, the centre of someone else’s universe!
If we can release expectations of other people, and ourselves for that matter, life would become much more free flowing and pleasant. People would be more likely to want to be around us too as they wouldn’t feel the pressure of having to ‘perform’ to please us!
I believe that the only expectations we should have is of ourselves and the Universe (or whatever name you call it by).
- Our expectation of ourselves is to be the best that we can be, and do the best that we can do in service to others, whilst honouring ourselves and releasing any people or situations that don’t honour us to the same extent.
- Our expectation of the Universe is that it will have our back. It will provide the people and situations in our lives which will best suit us, help us to grow spiritually and ultimately make us happy! That we will be able to trust the process completely and relax in the knowledge that we are being looked after and always will be.
In this way, it will be easier to live in the present moment as we will more readily detach from the expectations of the future. We never really know what is going to happen – it’s all just an educated guess really – fueled by lots of emotional wants and needs. Therefore, why spoil the present by continually looking to the future. After all, our future is created in the present moment, so we are only shooting ourselves in the foot!
I wish you all peace and happiness in the present moment, and a future full of the peace and happiness you have created right now!
Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. She has spent over 40 years on her spiritual journey which, amongst other things, included training as a medium, hands on healing and travelling with a shaman. She trained for 3 years as a graphologist and for 23 years has been a reader specialising in graphology and tarot – 14 of those years were spent participating in festivals both at home and abroad.
The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.
Sue is a member of the 7 Graces of Marketing community, the core purpose of which is to promote ethical marketing.
Twitter – @soulecting and @soulfullysue