What do you expect of others? Do they fulfil a role for you? Do you expect things that they are not aware of? Are you constantly let down by other people or get frustrated with them as they’ve done/ not done something that you believed they should do?
What do you expect out of life? Does it have to treat you in a certain way? Are you disappointed by it, that you are not where you should be? Are you angry that you’ve done everything right but you’re still not happy?
Could it be true that you’re placing a lot of expectations on people and on life? And that, by doing so, you’re missing out on other things and people who are in your life, other opportunities? Or are you angry that things aren’t as you expect them to be, yet this anger might just be keeping you stuck in this life unable to see a way out?
Let me explain more about expectations and how they can affect your life with some examples.
Jane** (name changed) had a best friend when she was in her 20’s, Mary. They were two peas in a pod. They went through some pretty rough times together but it only served to bring them closer together. They had a huge amount of fun and Jane really looked up to Mary as she, in her eyes, had everything; brains, beauty and she was generous and caring as well.
Jane put the expectation of “best friend” on Mary’s shoulders and for a few years that worked perfectly for them. Jane was so delighted for Mary when she met her husband, was bridesmaid at her wedding and thought of her like a sister. She was thrilled when Mary moved back to their home town and she thought this was great, they could be two peas again. Jane expected that, but it did not happen.
Life moved on as its meant to and Mary had two beautiful children. Jane felt very included but also then very ignored. After all she was the best friend wasn’t she? Some things started to happen that made her think that she wasn’t anymore and, hurt, she started isolating herself. Eventually it came to a point where Jane believed that Mary didn’t want her in her life and she retreated very hurt and very angry. Jane had expected more from Mary, she was angry and she felt like that for years.
The expectation stifled the relationship. The “best friend” label didn’t have any room for a busy lifestyle, two kids, a husband and a full time job and me and so instead of being understanding of this, Jane expected to still be made time for.She couldn’t see how Mary might still have wanted her in her life but she literally didn’t have a moment for her. This pressure that Jane put on the relationship meant that it couldn’t survive. All she could see was how Mary wasn’t measuring up to her expectations. It destroyed the friendship.
My father was the epitamy of living with expectations. He expected his children to look after him and to be married for the rest of his life. My mother has a different opinion and told him so 10 years ago. He could not and would not move beyond these expectations. It kept him trapped and he was unable to find happiness with another partner, or see all the good things in his life. He was angry because of this and his anger kept him trapped in only seeing his life in a certain way.
Releasing expectation of people and your life does not mean that you start putting up with disrespectful behaviour. You can still ask people to be on time, do what they say they will, etc but when you release expectation you see that if they do it or not or if they’re late is then nothing to do with you and all to do with what is going on with their lives.
Like with Jane and Mary. Jane, over time, released the expectation she had of their relationship and once she did all the anger she had towards Mary left. She was then able to see another reality in which she saw that Mary was simply busy, just busy. It was nothing to do with her and nothing to do with their friendship.
Moving beyond expectation
As the wise English man William Shakespeare put it so eloquently, “Expectation is the root of all heartache”.
Thankfully Dad did let go of the expectations he had, about 4 weeks before he died he understood that they only person who was suffering was himself and for 4 wonderful weeks I had my Dad back. He made an effort to get out and about, started making plans and people started contacting him again. I’m so grateful that he let go and had some weeks of happiness before he died.
What happens when you let go of expectation? Well you open up to the possibility of ….
Two magical words! What if your life is exactly how it’s meant to be and in X amount of years, when you’re looking back you’ll laugh as you see how everything came together in perfect timing.
What if you let go of how your life should look?
What if? Imagine it.
You have the power today to let go of all expectations that you have. In this moment you can choose to do so. It will mean that everything is a bonus, everything is a joy, everything is an addition to your day instead of people or experiences never being able to live up to what you’d imagined/expected.
What if you used different “labels”. For example, what if a relationship (& all the expectations that go with that) is defined instead as “sharing a space with someone” or you remove “best friend” from your vocabulary?
Think about it, think about all the expectations we have when we enter into a relationship. Suddenly when that label is put on two people things change, you’re expected to be x, y and z, to behave in a certain way, however when you’re “sharing a space with someone” it’s much more fun, upbeat and less pressurised. Now I’m not suggesting that means also being less committed or disrespectful, not at all, just less pressurised thus creating an energy in which a “relationship” is much more likely to grow and blossom.
Try letting go of all expectations and see what happens when you do.