How expectations limit our lives

It was a great weekend. Family and friends. Fun activities, good food – and not at all what I expected.

For awhile then, instead of soaking up all the good things that did occur, all the surprises and opportunities – I lamented what didn’t happen. There was never any plan. No agenda, but still I had a visual image – an expectation – of what would occur over the weekend. When it didn’t, I felt disappointed, like I had missed out. Though I did have a fantastic time.

Being so tied to our own expectations that we can’t enjoy the good things that actually do happen is crazy-making. I caught myself in this absurd process and got my head and heart back into alignment by appreciating the weekend we did have, rather than the expectations that weren’t met.

But this got me thinking about how often we load our lives with expectations and then feel sad, disappointed, angry when they aren’t met. How often do we expect others to act or feel a certain way and then we feel unloved or angry when they don’t.

People, if we want to be really happy, we have got to stop doing this.

Think about it:

You expect your husband to do the dishes, (though you never mention it). Geez, you cooked the freaking dinner, packed the lunch, folded the clothes and mediated world peace in the Middle East, the least he can do is the dishes. Right? He should know what you need. You expect him to know. When he doesn’t you are plumb ticked off.

Maybe you expect to get the promotion, you’ve been there eight years. When you’re passed over you become boss-hating and angry.

Perhaps you expect to make 500 bucks on the fundraiser. When you don’t you feel like a failure.

These patterns repeat throughout every aspect of our lives: we expect to be healthy, when we get something funky we are devastated and surprised. We expect to have fun, when we don’t we’re mad.

There are so many directions we can take in life, so many paths to follow, why then do we limit ourselves with expectation?

Expectation ties us to disappointment

When you live from a place of expectation, you can never be satisfied. It’s not that people are bad or wrong for defying your expectation or that the Universe is out to get you if your plans aren’t met – everybody is just doing what they do. But, when you tie yourself to a single idea, that’s too constrictive to work and your expectation can never be met.

Clinging to expectations also limits our potential. Often, what we think we want is so much smaller than what we are actually capable of creating. By being tied to a single outcome, we give up on the grander goal.

Life is wild and expansive and fluid and changing and in that way it’s interesting. But, if you are living only for a particular outcome – for things to go just your way, just as you expected – you miss out on all the cool stuff that comes up along the way. Then, real-life can never match up to the expectation you created in your imagination – even if it’s really, really good.

Good things will happen whether you plan for them or coach them or expect them. Some hard stuff will come too. The best you can do is to drop the expectations and commit to engaging fully in the experience. Then, you’re more likely to find meaning and appreciate ANYTHING that happens.

On Wednesday, you can expect that I’ll give you some tips on how to do this. Believe me, I’m working on it too.


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