It’s good to have expectations.. yes? Expectations of others, expectations of the world, expectations of ones self, all seem to be natural and normal. Parents expect great things from their children, managers expect excellent performance from their staff, and the nation has high expectations of its sports stars. Inevitably, one day, those expectations will not be met, and we will feel let down. For some it’s as if their whole world collapses and they feel crushed inside. Why? Not because our child or the sports star did not perform, not because the job did not get done, but because we made our happiness dependent on our expectations being met. We made the well being of our inner world dependent on what happens in the outer world. The ‘let down’ feeling of sadness frequently turns to anger and resentment as we look for someone to blame for our unhappiness. Mistrust enters the relationship as we hold on to our ‘hurt’ for days, weeks and even years.
So what’s the solution? Perhaps it’s simply better to have no expectations. Then we may avoid disappointment altogether. If we can be free of expectations we stop living for some future outcome or result, and we start living in the present moment. If we can be free of expectations of others and of ourselves, we can then dissolve the ‘tense thinking’ that inhabits the space between now and then! And if we can be free of all expectations we are open to whatever may happen and then we are better able to respond to whatever does happen.
If this sounds slightly impractical in relationships such as parent/child or manager/employee then perhaps there is a third way, a ‘low road’, until we are ready to take the ‘high road’. I expect you to do the job efficiently, I expect you to be on time, I expect you to be all that you can be. But if you don’t, it’s OK, my happiness is not dependent on it. Is it possible to separate the meeting of our expectations with our happiness? It would appear to be the only way forward in a practical sense. In this way we take the suffering out of unmet expectations, which then allows us to engage more proactively as we enquire to find out why things did not go as expected, “Was something wrong.. Did you need help.. What happened exactly?” These are all questions motivated by the intention to understand the other. Questions that will not come easily, if at all, if we are sad and angry at having been let down. The secret is to realize that when someone does not meet your expectations, they don’t let you down, you let you down!
Much of the time we use the word ‘expectations’ what we really mean is desire. When we ‘expect’ we are really saying ‘I want’. And if our happiness is tied to the fulfillment of our desires then we are bound to create a rollercoaster journey through life. Essentially we want others to make us happy which of course, they can never do. You do know that don’t you? Only you can make your self happy. Only you can make your contentment stable and strong. But as long as you think the other person, the train being on time, your team winning, are the shapers of your happiness then your expectations will always be the ‘enemy within’.
The best way to use expectation is as a form of empowerment. To expect the best of someone is to have a vision of them performing at their best. To create that vision is to transmit that vision to them which is a form of empowering them with a very positive energy. It is a form of empowerment to see someone be at their best in your mind. And the same applies to your self. It is no accident that in the last decade all the top sports men and women have resorted less to the adrenaline ‘hit’ to induce peak performance, and more to visualizing their own ‘excellence’ before going anywhere near the tennis court and the golf course etc. They build such a positive vision of themselves that when they do go out and perform they reach their peak with greater ease. So when you expect the best of your child or your employee you have created a positive and elevated vision of them, which they can sense in you. And when you don’t become unhappy and upset when they don’t get there exactly when or in the way you expected, they still feel your support, they still feel your encouragement; they are still empowered by your authentic care about them. They are no longer disempowered by your narrow concern for your own happiness. They no longer fear your emotional reaction if they don’t reach the stars.. exactly.. on time !
Source Credits: Mike George | Inner Beauty Consultant