Releasing Expectations

Recently I noticed that I’ve been feeling like a prisoner, held captive by some of my expectations.

Have you ever experienced this? Has one of your expectations overwhelmed you, making it difficult to concentrate or focus energy on anything else?

I find this feeling very challenging and perhaps you do as well. I wondered what I could do about it and decided to ask Lia (an ethereal feminine voice of god that comes to me whenever I have questions I’d like answered). I felt I needed a breakthrough and wanted to know what she would tell me.

Her clear voice sprang forward, “It would be helpful for you to know that the basis of all your expectations comes from your cultural upbringing. As you grew up, important folks in your life placed expectations upon you, sometimes specifically and sometimes generally. Depending on your performance you received either rewards or punishments but were never entirely sure which it would be.”

I thought about this for a few minutes and decided that she was absolutely correct.

Of course, my next thought was, what can I do about this? I wondered what my options were and asked for some further guidance.

“At some point in your life, you came to the conclusion that decisions and choices were now up to you. You’d essentially grown past having to be told by others what direction to take. And yet, instead of rethinking setting expectations according to your own rules, you chose to continue your cultural training, allowing these preset decisions to guide your life.”

Yikes, that didn’t seem like a wise move on my part.

I couldn’t deny the truth of her statement. Surely it would be smarter to make reasonable and conscious choices about what to expect from myself and it would be a sound move to strip away any defaults that cause me stress and unhappiness.

So, how is this to be accomplished?

Lia chimed in, “Within each and every expectation there is the existence of that which serves you and that which does not. The simplest way to tell the difference is how they make you feel.”

I wondered, is it really possible to use ‘how expectations make me feel’ as a legitimate barometer? After all, is it truly possible to rely on ‘feelings’ as a measurement of success and forward movement?

I received a resounding “yes” from Lia.

And then this, “It is all about what you are aiming for. Ask yourself, what is most important to you?”

I came up with several answers.

Lia asked me whether my answers came from my feelings or my thoughts.

“Feelings,” I responded.

“It matters what you choose to release and what you choose to embrace. When you release others’ expectations and their attached rewards and punishments and consciously embrace your own softly held expectations which align with what is most important to you, your life will change enormously.”

I liked the sounds of that. A lot.

I needed one more clarification. “Softly held expectations?”, I asked.

“Yes,” Lia said, “softly held implies you allow for a range of outcomes and accept whichever occurs, knowing that each holds some value for you.”

I am so grateful for the release I feel. I am no longer a prisoner and can move about freely, knowing I have a choice. Thank you Lia for your wisdom.

Giving In

What if we gave in?

I want to be clear here.

I am not talking about giving up or resigning from life. What I am talking about is a kind of letting go and not holding on so tightly to specific results.

When there is only one outcome that we find acceptable, we are limiting life and all the other wonderful opportunities that could happen. It’s as if we are creating roadblocks that prevent us from seeing and experiencing a larger world.

I’ve done this so many times in my life.

It’s hard not to. We are often programmed to want what we want. To set goals and achieve them. To create wish lists. To ask for very specific things; a certain car or watch or book…you name it. And sometimes we can even become obsessed by what we hope to possess.

We tend to think that we need to visualize or manifest only one thing or one outcome or we risk feeling like a failure.

So, what I’m really asking is whether we are capable of giving up this kind of thinking, this kind of asking, and this kind of expecting?

What if we gave in and it expanded our world?

Think of it as opening to a full allowance for everything to be possible, not just the one result our conscious mind can dream up. Our lives are so much bigger than that.

When I consider this, I wonder, what would that look like? How would that feel? What could happen if I could shift my attitude and mind-set?

My immediate answer is…anything could happen!

At first this sounds a bit scarry. ‘Anything’ is pretty wide open and could include things I’m not ready for. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we tend to want specific outcomes, so that we both get what we want and don’t get surprised by other things.

But how do we really know that what we think we want is what is best for us? I think the answer to that is, we don’t.

How could we?

And this begs another question, a far deeper one.

Will life, the universe, god, or whatever concept that feels right to you, provide whatever is best for us, if we give it a chance, and don’t shut the door and focus on only one thing?

Can we find a way to trust that?

That is a very tough question and one I’ve struggled with over the years.

What form of proof would you require before you could accept that what you experience in life is exactly right for you?

On my best days I am patient and open. I encourage myself to pay attention and carefully watch what happens. I counsel myself to accept what appears in my life, believing it is meant for me. I let go of what I’ve established as my goals, aims or desires and allow what comes to fill, feed and nourish me. When this happens, I recognize a greater truth, that I am cared for and all things in my life serve me. It may take a bit of time before I see how they do, but if I let go of my expectations, I come to see this clearly.

There is an awesome grace in giving in and letting go of whatever creates disharmony in our world and I am grateful each time I allow this to happen.

Finding Things We Hide from Ourselves

Can we find what we can not see? And a deeper question, can we find what we will not see? By ‘will not see’, I mean what we won’t permit ourselves to acknowledge. We know something is there, but we willfully avoid looking at it.

It feels too threatening to us, so we shift our focus. After all, there are so many things that beg for our time and attention and it’s easy to tell ourselves we’ll get back to it when we have more time.

This happens to me quite frequently. It’s as if the hidden things want to see the light. They are insistent and return over and over until they wear me down and I feel forced to pay them heed.

One of my recurring themes is the idea of meeting others’ expectations of me. I need to be a bit more precise here. It’s not just about meeting others’ expectations of me; it goes further than that. It’s about meeting my ‘perception’ of others’ expectations.

This added challenge increases the difficulty for me, because I don’t really know what anyone else expects from me. I believe this is true, even if they tell me what they want, because they may not really know. The answer(s) may lie hidden and difficult to find.

It’s easy to see how unlikely it is for me to unravel this.

When I add my tendency to doubt myself, thinking I do not have the power or control to provide what they want, or my perception of what they want, it becomes harder still.

I also must confess that I take it one step further. I have another tendency, which is to overachieve. I not only want to meet my own and others’ expectations, but I also want to exceed them. This creates even more internal pressure. Far beyond what is reasonable or helpful. And it ultimately makes it more difficult to find the hidden meanings I’m searching for.

When I experience moments of clarity, I realize that overachieving is an attempt on my part to maintain or improve a vision of myself, whether necessary or not. It feels like I’m trying to prove my worth and that I am enough.

Before I began writing these posts, I decided that I would reveal what felt true for me, regardless of how it made me appear to whoever chose to read me. Honesty, within me and as expressed to you, is important to me. I want to be open, and I encourage you to do the same thing with yourself, in the hope that we can find some answers together.

So, the question that surfaces is, what to do next? Is there a remedy for uncovering what lies hidden from view within us?

I offer you this for your consideration.

Set aside your fear of the unknown. There is nothing inside you that is there to harm you. In fact, all hidden things are there to create light for your path forward.

Embrace a sense of trust, that you have an innate goodness. A goodness that can be directed first, toward yourself and second, toward others.

Ask for guidance from whoever or whatever you regard as sacred and divine. Ask for clarity and confidence in finding the hidden things. Ask for their meaning and purpose to be shown to you.

Open your heart and allow yourself freedom to choose to see what wants to be seen.

Release any need to control the outcome. Simply give yourself space for the worth of the hidden things to materialize in your life.

And, as much as is possible, believe that all your hidden things are there to serve you.

When they come, welcome them, and accept what they have to offer.

Expectations, the Thief of Joy

It seems that I am constantly at odds with myself over the expectations I have. Does this happen to you too?

I set them up in my mind and then when they don’t come true as I expected, it creates a cascade of emotions. There is sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, and confusion. All of them, thieves of joy.

I don’t like this part of my earthly adventure.

The obvious question I need to ask myself is, ‘why do I continue this thoroughly unenjoyable experience?’

There must be a better way.

Perhaps if I chose not to have any expectations about anything, maybe that would solve the problem. But how likely is that?

For me, not likely at all. I’ve tried this repeatedly without success. It ends with the same result. Even though I say to myself that I’m not going to care about the outcome of something, some part of me ignores this ‘suggestion’. It has already recorded my expectation and won’t let it go. So, when it becomes obvious that my expectation is unmet, it repeats the cascade.

I know this doesn’t make sense, but it is what happens. At least, most of the time.

I do believe that experiences, such as this, will continue to arrive in my life because they bear messages for me. They hint at things I would benefit from and that would improve my life. They come to offer me gifts.

So far, I’ve missed their value. And because of this, I continue to suffer. I realize this is my choice and that if I opened myself up, I might be able to see more possibilities and maybe some real answers.

How is this to happen?

I know there are numerous excellent self-help books that probably address this issue. They no doubt have many valuable suggestions to make and have provided a great deal of assistance to those prepared to try them. I sincerely congratulate those who read them and adopt their recommendations. It would be wise if I would join them, but something stops me.

It may not be the wisest approach for me to take, but it appears that I like to struggle. That may sound foolish, but I know it is the case with me. I have to personally confront whatever issue stands before me. I have to feel the weight of it. And, I have to wrestle with it until it breaks apart and shows me some truth.

So, I lay myself open and I ask for divine guidance to enter and assist me with finding a way forward.

And, what comes is this, I want joy. I want it as a centerpiece in my life. Joy goes far beyond happiness. Happiness is fleeting, but joy is truth. I believe each of us came here to earth filled with joy. It is a part of our natural state and a reflection of love.

I see how setting expectations puts limits on joy. It declares there is only one right solution and when it is not met, there is a price to pay. I see how setting expectations is looking for value outside of me. And my sense of satisfaction with life becomes dependent on what happens outside of me. Is there anything more fragile than this?

And so here is the message I’ve been waiting for. It is always about what is ‘inside’ of me. I can never reliably find what I’m looking for outside of me. This is at the heart of all my expectations, a desire to be fulfilled by what lies beyond me.

This will never happen because it is what is inside of me that matters. The wonderful news is that this is where all the good stuff is. We came here with all of it. If I close my eyes and slow my breathing and look inside and remember who I truly am, a part of the divine, I can awake to the knowing that I am made of love. I am whole and complete, just as I am. No outward fulfilled expectations will make me more than I already am.

So, when the next one comes, I will remind myself of this truth and release the expectation and in remembering to do this, will center on the joy inside of me.

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