I have been thinking deeply lately about expectations. Expectations that I have of others, and that I have of myself. I have been thinking of it more often recently, because I have been encountering lessons that address that in my life that have been painful in the moment. There is one consistent theme that I discovered, quite by accident, as I was thinking about expectations.
Every time that I am focused on trying to do something, I am doing so to meet very specific expectations.
For most of my adult life, I have had big expectations of myself. I have wanted to always be pleasant, friendly, loving and accepting. I have always wanted to be the best employee, mother, partner, friend and student. I have always expected myself to follow my diet and exercise regimen precisely; to not think negative thoughts; to get enough sleep and keep a clean house.
I have also had high expectations of others in my life. I have expected those around me to always know what is going on with me, without me telling them. I have expected others to to be perfect, in the ways that I saw myself as aspiring for perfection. I have held others to a standard that I believed was the correct one, as it reflected the standard that I held myself to.
So, what I have been thinking about is that expectations can create a situation where I separate from myself, and from others. I don’t think having a desire for our lives to turn out a certain way is a bad thing, in and of itself. However, it occurs to me that there is an absence of faith in the fact that all will turn out well, when we add an expectation, and then further add our desire to TRY to meet the expectation.
Stay with me here, I am evolving this as I type! 🙂
When I say that I am TRYING to get along with someone with whom I have conflict with; when I say that I am TRYING to be more patient and kind; when I am TRYING to eat more healthy and exercise consistently; or I am TRYING to run further each day that I exercise; each time I try, I put an expectation in place. I know how I want the story to end. So, when I try to run two miles without stopping, and then, I stop, I have disappointed myself, because through saying I would try, I added the expectation of what I wanted the outcome to be.
And, as a result, anything short of the expectation becomes a disappointment.
So, I am trying something new on instead. Now, it is like a new pair of shoes for me: it feels great, they look great on my feet, by I need to adjust to how they form to my foot type over time. It is not an immediate fit.
What I would rather believe, and do, is to be in the moments of my life, and enjoy what is in that moment. Enjoy the run that I am having around the lake, without trying for the two mile mark, and being able to rejoice in whatever I accomplish. AND, be able to be gentle with myself if I run a quarter of a mile that day instead. Being present to whatever it is that I am able to do.
When I put an expectation on my actions, for myself or others, I immediately place value, positive or negative, depending on how well the expectation is met. SO, if instead, I am unconditionally loving myself, loving others, and just being in my world, while showing my best self, the results will always be awesome. I will get to revel in connecting more deeply and authentically with others; I will get to love myself with what ever I am doing; and living in the story rather than trying to skip to the ending.
As with other new concepts that I have considered, this is not meant to be perfection. It is yet another way to begin living my life in a more full, meaningful way, and to love myself and others more and more deeply.
Come with me.