It has been said that one of the secrets to a happy life is to not have expectations but to let things unfold naturally. You know, the “be in the moment” and “don’t worry about what may happen” stuff. Focus on what is. Without expectations you are never let down or disappointed. Don’t expect people to do what you would do, or feel how you feel. Actually that one makes sense, people feel how they feel, and you can’t force how you feel on anyone. Although it is obvious that people always try to make you feel the way they do about something and question why you don’t.
But this expectation thing has gotten me somewhat twisted in knots lately, and I’m trying to figure out how to not have so many. I realized I had expectations for how my brother would handle the decline in my parents; especially my mom and I have been disappointed. I was not sure how to handle that, and have tried to share with him what they want more of instead of focusing on what I need. By doing that my expectations of him have changed and I am less disappointed. That one has gotten easier.
But expectations in themselves definitely cause a build- up of something and then because people don’t seem to always come through or follow through with what they say, a big let- down follows. And, an “I’m sorry” should suffice. But, dammit sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is the last straw of expectations that have been built and built with just another let-down. At times it reminds me that I’m less important than a lot of things going on and that just feels crappy.
I don’t expect to be the most important person in anyone’s life all of the time, the universe doesn’t revolve around me or anyone else. I so get that. At times, I would like to feel, however, that I matter to the people who matter most to me. And often I just don’t. I have expectations built up about getting together, about spending time together and those expectations, when unfulfilled, become the greatest of disappointments. And I am left feeling unimportant and that equates in my world as unloved.
And that is probably why you should not have expectations! I actually laugh when I think about how my mind works and moves from an expectation to feeling unloved. I know I’m not unloved, I know that intellectually. I know that even in my heart. But somehow that is the leap I take at that moment and I’m hurt and pissed all at the same time. Those feelings are why we shouldn’t have expectations but then what do we do? How do you get excited with anticipation if you don’t have an expectation?
I think about one of my best work experiences, going to Japan for a few months to work in 2001. I was filled with anticipation and excitement, along with fear and worry. I didn’t know if I was capable of the job I was being asked to do along with the fear of being 7000 miles away from my entire support system. I had expectations of how this would go and at first I wasn’t happy. I was let down and got very homesick. My mother, the most honest person I know, said to me, “suck it up, your company asked you to do a job because they know you are capable. Just do it.” And I did. I stopped being disappointed in being treated as a second class citizen and started focusing on what I needed to do to make the impact I was asked to make. The result was the best experience of my life. I let go of the fear and worry and focused on the anticipation of a great outcome.
Perhaps that is what needs to be done each day in life. Let go of the expectations that lead to fear and worry and focus on the great outcomes that we are looking for. I know I need to let go of expectations I have of people, my mom once told me that people are never going to do what you do or what you hope they will do. She is so right. And those expectations I need to let go of so that I am not so disappointed in life.
I guess I wish people wouldn’t say things that build up expectations. Once it is said to me, since I tend to follow through with most things I say, I do have an expectation that others will. I need to stop having that expectation, although that also feels as if I shouldn’t trust what is said to me. Is that where I’m wrong? I trust that what is said to me is true and fact and I shouldn’t?
I don’t know. I just know that I don’t like feeling disappointed and let down and that is on me. So this week, I will focus on noticing what expectations I do have of people and work to let go of those so that I am not so disappointed.
Be in the moment, and let things unfold naturally.