Happy Saturday! Sorry it’s been a few weeks since the last message. Life has consisted of a whirlwind of changes over the last few weeks and I am slowly but surely learning how to drop my expectations and go with the flow.
As you might have guessed, today I want to speak about Expectations. From a young age, we are taught to set high expectations for ourselves, to reach for the stars, but I am here to offer up a caveat to that well-intentioned guidance and explain how dropping expectations can also have a significant influence on our lives.
Whether you think you don’t, or you think you do, the truth is, we all have em’. And they come in MANY different forms. From taking a trip to the grocery store and EXPECTING there to be a bag of Hot Cheetos there waiting for you to calling or texting your significant other and EXPECTING them to reply within a “reasonable” amount of time. But the fact of the matter is, a majority of our anger, disappointment, irritation and sadness arise because things didn’t go the way we hoped (i.e. store ran out of those delicious red Cheetos) or because others didn’t respond to us in the way we imagined they would (she never texted back or the Partner didn’t compliment me on that dope set of financial statements I spent 25 hours piecing together).
Rather than remaining focused on ourselves, we tend to look ahead and at others, and this is what gets us into emotional AND physiological trouble. Wondering how to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life by releasing expectations? Below is a mix of 5 benefits and methods one can use to release the grip of those dreadful expectations!
- Take Responsibility – I push myself to workout or go to yoga every single morning because it is a part of my being a dedicated and healthy individual and I like the challenge. I clean my room because I want it neater and organized. I hold the door open for somebody simply because it is the right thing to do! This mental shift helps to sidestep any of those thoughts that someone else is expecting me to do something and conversely, that we are expecting something from someone else in return. Expect NOTHING in return for your good deeds. If we can learn to do nice things simply because they are the right things to do, we will experience a mental and emotional breakthrough guaranteed to send chills down our spines!
- Distinguish between the desires and the shoulds. The shoulds typically come from our heads, our ego, that annoying but oftentimes omnipotent voice in our heads that doesn’t shut up. Shoulds are by definition expectations imposed by others. When we fail to do them, we feel guilty. When we follow them, we often feel driven and expect a payoff for our efforts. Instead, let’s focus on the true desires – heart, gut-based desires rather than how “things should be”. Values and core beliefs are the foundations of our integrity.
- You will avoid feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration with others and with yourself. When I practice yoga, there are times when I EXPECT myself to be able to get into a pose simply because I have done it before, but maybe, my body isn’t feeling it that day so when I can’t get into the pose, I might get disappointed or frustrated with myself. As we learn to drop expectations and simply accept what is, these negative emotions will similarly and subsequently disappear.
- You Avoid a Downward Spiral of Complaints and Negative Emotions – If we do not learn to drop expectations, we start to tie our entire being to expectations! I do everything I should. I expect people to appreciate me, reward me, praise me…NOT GONNA HAPPEN! Eventually, these types of thought patterns result in emotional exhaustion as we start to get fed up by the unfairness of it all. This can result in depression, resentfulness, acting out, binge eating, drinking, shopping, etc. as we truly start to believe we deserve everything we just did. Do not fall victim to this trap!
- Become Present – The decisions and choices of life come at us 100 miles per hour. Expectations will forever push us to look ahead and often cause anxiety related issues, trapping us in a future dedicated to “shoulds” and “what ifs”. How will others react? What should I do? What are they going to think about me? How can I get them to react in a way I expect? What if I am wrong? Dropping expectations allows us to truly live in the present moment. I urge you to keep it simple! What do you want right now? Do it. Act. Then see what happens next.
If you’re open to explore this progressive way of thinking, start slow. This is all about rewiring your brain and it’s going to take concentration. Be proactive. Listen to yourself. Whatever decision you make, own it, no auto-pilot. Push aside the shoulds, the mental rush towards the outcome, the possible response of others, the future. Stay in the moment, see your decision right now as the best decision you can make in the moment. What happens next doesn’t matter right now.
No Expectations. Let’s do this!