What do expectations do?
It’s been an intriguing question for me, and I’ve spent a great deal of time considering it. Considering, but not coming to any real conclusions…until today.
Expectations appear to jeopardize my success. They block my progress forward, making it harder to experience what I am hopeful about. They are harmful things because they are projections of an uncertain future and are not easily controllable.
When I create expectations there is a tendency to generalize them, which makes any evaluation of their success difficult. Worse still, I tend to attach my sense of happiness to them.
Expectations also create fear for me. Fear of not experiencing them exactly as I would like.
Often, I have a sense of what my expectations are, but I don’t write them down and recognize them. I don’t take specific actions steps to make them happen. I just expect them to occur on their own because that’s what I want. Truly, a recipe for failure.
I will be the facilitator of a retreat soon and I’m sensing an inner concern about meeting both the groups and my own expectations.
While considering this I feel guided to write down what I expect will happen. I come up with nine items and upon review, I notice that I have absolutely no control over the outcomes for five of the items and only limited control over the other four. I might be able to enhance the chances of meeting some expectations, but this seems entirely uncertain.
I also notice that if I allow my happiness to be conditional on successfully meeting my own and others’ expectations, I will be doomed to failure.
It becomes apparent that there are two key elements involved here. First, my setting any expectations, even if they are specific enough to be recognizable, creates a certain degree of fear. And second, it is evident that I have no real control over what will happen for any participant or for myself, which produces even more fear in me.
That’s when a beautiful thing happened.
I realize that in all cases, fear serves as a divine messenger for me. In this case it creates legitimate clarity because it brings home the message that neither setting expectations nor controlling outcomes is where I want to focus my attention.
Recognizing my fear allows me to widen my view, to take notice and to shift my awareness from what I can’t do to what I can do.
I can’t meet all of my own expectations nor those of others because I don’t have control over any outcomes. Life is too complex and fluid for that. And I can’t guarantee my happiness when it is tied to achieving all of my expectations. My vested interest if just too strong.
I can however release my perceived need for setting or accomplishing any expectations. I can embrace being present in each moment, realizing there is inherent value in simply loving myself and others and going with the flow of life.
When I am ‘in the moment’ and fully engaged I can be vested in the creation of depth of connection with and for others and myself. That’s when I experience joy and for me that’s what this world is all about.