You think you know how things ought to be, but you’re wrong a lot.
An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen in the future. Having expectations of other people, involves holding the belief that someone should achieve something or act a certain way. Call it an assumption, a presumption, or a prediction. Whatever you call it, it’s really not that good for you.
Expectations Seek to Control.
People enjoy stability, people enjoy consistency, people enjoy a degree of control. These things make us feel safe and secure rather than anxious. When we set an expectation that something should, and probably will unfold a certain way, we don’t have to deal with the whirlwind of change or unpredictability.
Expectations Resist Change.
Change is the most constant and natural part of our lives and the universe. Despite this, the rational mind tries to cling to patterns and familiarity to sink anchors into the ground. Why do we do this? Uncertainty breeds fear. If we’re surviving in a familiar situation we may question our competence in dealing with conditions if they stop lining up with our expectations.
Expecting Imprison People.
People are just as unpredictable as our environment. Saying “you’ve changed” to a person became a common insult because it means the person we expect and want them to be is no longer performing the way we expect. Who are we to say what others should or shouldn’t achieve? Putting people in boxes to ease our anxiety will only cause us greater anxiety when they break free from our small perception of them.
Expectations Are Egocentric.
We create expectations to craft the way we believe the world should or shouldn’t be. This belief system is perfectly manufactured around our ideals. Thinking that you know the way things should go, undermines the much greater universal and collective reality playing out. Forfeiting the model that tries (and fails) to serve just you will keep you from disappointment.
How Do We Let Go of Expectations?
Living mindfully is the greatest way to release expectations. If you are living moment to moment there is no need to plan or guard against predictions that are not yet realities. Another way to let go, is by way of trust. Trusting that things will be okay and work out even if they don’t match your expectations is the ultimate freedom.
Write down three main incidences when your expectation for the future, in your career, relationship, or another area, did not turn out as planned. How did the failure of this expectation make you feel? Do you believe you had something to learn in the reality of the situation rather than the expectation? Reflect on this.