Years spent soul searching, building yourself up and creating a bountiful life. You’ve filled your days with activities that bring you joy, found yourself a solid support system. You’ve studied, read, listened and talked. You’ve manifested, created the vision board and worked tirelessly to be the person you know in your heart you are destined to be. Then in walks someone…eyes lock, sparks fly and everything you know to be true falls away. The one feeling you thought you would never experience suddenly envelopes your body. You’re instantly attracted and feel a deep knowing in your self that this person is important. The attraction leads to conversation which inevitably leads to connection. Like moths to a flame, the chemistry is undeniable. It seems as if all of your prayers have been answered and what you are seeking has finally found you. However, in one fell swoop, everything changes…you’re left standing there alone wondering if any of it was real. Questioning the validity of the emotional experience. Was it all a dream?
William Shakespeare once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartbreak”. Never have truer words been spoken. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we are prone to get wrapped up in the fairy tale. In the thoughts. In the fantasy world that lay deep beyond logical comprehension. Our imagination runs wild, filling our mind with clear visions. The brain begins to analyse, plan and create. Taking us out of the present moment and on a journey. Dates to be taken, kisses to be shared, conversations to be had. Our denied inner desire for intimacy and connection surfacing. Demanding to be heard. The images are so vivid, we swear they’ve already happened. However, when the harsh light of reality seeps into the illusion, it’s a hard fall.
That’s the thing with expectations, we don’t even realise we have them until they go unmet. The pain pierces through our defenses leaving us with nothing but the fantasy. The ‘could haves’.
So how can we notice our expectations and what do we do about them?
The answer isn’t quite simple and the steps in overcoming them are not easy.
Our expectations are tied to feelings, experiences and ideas. They usually relate to what we believe will make us happy, generally, this is a perceived future idea. A ‘should’ in the form of: I should be skinnier, I should have a partner. Placing our happiness in the future which let’s face it never arrives. It will always be the future. No matter the area of life, expectations are always in place- money, employment, friendships, relationships etc. This often results in disappointment as hopes are never questioned. Never brought to the light. Until the time restraint we have placed on our self runs out and we feel the pain of not being where we ‘ought’ to be.
The first key to managing our expectations is awareness. We are required to bring our attention inside. Turning it inwards to the deepest parts of our mind and asking ourselves: What do I want from this person, situation or experience? What story am I telling myself about the future? This will be where the expectation lay doormat. Our idea of what is going to happen or the way life will be for us. A clear projection of the future encompassing all our deepest desires and childhood fantasies.
After we get clear about what we are thinking, the next key to managing our expectations is to employ the technique of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about paying attention, on purpose and nonjudgmentally, to the present moment- what is occurring around us at that exact moment in time. This technique is extremely effective as a way to reduce stress, increase our self-awareness and helps us to manage painful thoughts and feelings. If you feel yourself getting caught up in the thoughts of the future or the pain of the past- engage the five senses. Make a note of all the things in your immediate surroundings that you can smell, hear, taste, see and touch. This allows us the opportunity to wake up out of our thoughts. To really connect with what is happening around us and appreciate the fullness of each moment in life.
The last key to managing expectations and help us in shifting our energy is gratitude. What we focus on magnifies. Therefore, if we continually focus on what we are lacking, what we don’t have or the suffering and hurt we have been through we are attracting more of the same. Instead make a conscious choice at the beginning of each day, throughout the day and at the end of every day to STOP, take three long, belly breaths. Ask yourself, “What am I thankful for?” We need to make the time to check in with our self and list a few things, people, situations or experiences that have us jumping with joy! This could be: the morning coffee, a smile from a stranger, your child sleeping through the night, a message from your friend, no traffic on your way to work etc. However big or small, celebrate it! Better yet go to that person and thank them for giving you such warm feelings. Gratitude allows us to open the door to abundance, increases our inner wellbeing and happiness.
To better manage our expectations in life, we need to make a conscious choice to act from a place of love. To let go of fear, doubt and insecurity. Let go of the desired outcomes. Detach from the images our mind turns out about the way life ‘should’ be or the way people ‘should’ be acting. Breathe into the present and fully surrender! Total acceptance of what is occurring and letting it happen the way it was meant to be.