Expectations are a funny thing. I feel I am someone who harbors many expectations. My expectations so often obscure my view of reality to such an extreme I cannot see things as they are or people for who they are for that matter.
Dropping expectations often feels like a thin line to walk, for I fear I will become tolerant of being mistreated or detached and complacent. One thing I can experience undoubtedly is how many expectations I have for myself. I am always “working” on something to fix, repair, or put the way I expect it to be. I am beginning to experience control, insecurity, and fear masquerade as expectations.
I focus so intently on making things work I lose sight of being able to watch them work. Everything then becomes viewed through the lens of a problem, and everything becomes blurred. Because there is no separation of how we treat ourselves and between how we treat others I can undoubtedly experience how my expectations of myself bleed out into the world and onto all of those around me.
I have always been so confused about how to let go of expectations and not allow myself to be taken advantage of from others. However, I have become more clear that having unmet expectations blurs my vision to see whether that person is taking advantage of me or not because I cannot see them. All I experience is what they did NOT do. It is not a complete picture but rather a type of tunnel vision that narrows down the reality of what is happening. After identifying what they did NOT do the entire focus of my chattering mind is trying to figure out what I need to do to get them to meet my expectations. Should I confront them? Should I just walk away? Should I not take it personally? On and on the “figuring it out” process goes on in my mind. The entire situation becomes focused on how I need to be, in any shape or form, to get them to do what I need them, what I feel justified in wanting them, to do. It could be, pay a bill on time, say thank you, ask how I am doing, follow-through with their promise, acknowledge an email, or be supportive—just to mention a few. When this is my focus I lose sight of the reality of their capacity and most often continue to expect something they cannot, have not, or maybe are not willing to give. I keep these people in my life longer than is healthy because my focus is on getting it right with myself so I can be the “right” way so they will then meet my “rightful” expectations.
I work so hard at making things work I have forgotten to watch them work. Of course, it is letting go of control, which in some moments is utterly terrifying for me but living behind an armor of unmet expectations is exhausting. So between terrifying and exhausting, I will watch things happen, dropping expectations to the best of my capacity and letting go of trying so hard to make things work. I have already experienced it, and It opens the door to seeing the love for myself and the love for others even if I choose to walk away and close the door on the situation, it is done more with love than anger.
I have habitually used the world as a reflection, and so often if people are mean I have internalized it to make sense of it with thoughts like “how am I mean to myself”? Then I begin to work to make things happen, aka stop attracting mean people. However, I go back to the same situation with the same person using their interaction with me as a litmus test to see whether I have fixed myself. Then I rinse and repeat, over and over and over again.
I offer this challenge to you too dear readers. Where you find disappointment and resentment look for the expectation(s) you have and see how hard you are trying to make things work and for a minute, an hour or even a day watch things work instead.
(photo by Monica Silva)