In my ever-widening understanding of my spiritual nature and the means by which I may live the life of my dreams in this physical experience, I have come, over and over and over again, to one concept that I have until now been loathe to face directly: Expectation.
I’ve mentioned expectation briefly in this blog over the course of the past year, but I know that I’ve only gleaned the surface. I’ve only allowed myself to glean the surface, because I wasn’t ready to deal with the ramifications inherent within nor accept the enormous underlying mass of this topic.
It is so huge in fact, that I decided that in order to address it properly, one single blog post just wouldn’t cover it – so I’ll be writing about it in three, today’s being part one.
Any discussion about expectation, in my opinion, must address the array of misconceptions we have about them, and why they’ve gotten such a bad rap.
Personally, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the word expectation, is a mental image from the movie Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (based loosely on the novel). It’s been many years since I’ve seen the movie, but it’s general theme involves the torturous experience of “expecting” things desperately wanted, but that will never come.
Now whether or not you are familiar with that particular film, I would still suspect that you, like I previously did, have a negative association with the very idea of expectations. It seems someone is always telling us to let go of our expectations, or to lower our expectations; maybe we feel forced to live up to someone else’s expectations of us.
Sometimes the message is more subtle or confusing, as seen in the advertising of the latest new pill, or program, or opportunity, all of which seem to come with the fine print: “Results not typical.” Somehow, the new standard in advertising is to sell a product hyping the hope of a specific result, while simultaneously saying “don’t expect it to work.”
So with all this negativity surrounding the idea of expectations in general, should we just keep avoiding the subject like the plague, trying to ignore the elephant in the room, or is the concept – or even the word – worth exploring?
I submit that it is.
Based on my experience, I’m going to go much further than that.
It has come to my understanding that expectation is both the most powerful tool we have for changing our lives into every thing we want them to be, and the root of every single thing that’s going wrong for us. How this tool gets used – positively or negatively – is up to us to decide.
Even heavier than the immense weight of this statement is the fact that this tool is in constant and active use by each and every one of us in every moment. Every single decision we make springs forth from the expectations we already have running, and for the most part, for the vast majority of us, they are terribly, terribly out of whack.
It’s understandable. We live in a society designed to have us listening to outside “authorities” on every topic, rather than listening to our own inner guidance and our own individual, unique feelings about it.
We’ve been trained since birth to follow the guidance and instructions of our well-meaning parents, rather than doing what we feel like doing. We are graded in school for how well we match our teachers’ and others expectations of our performance. We’ve been told to follow the rules, regardless of our feelings, for the good of our family, or the good of the nation or the good of society.
These things need not be inherently insidious. Many of these ideas come from a place of wanting the best for us, but they are still based in fear. In some cases, it feels good to align with these things. In others, it feels terrible. So as individuals, we begin to pick up numerous ideas that don’t serve us at all; we begin to make choices for ourselves based on making other people happy, or what they think will make us happy, rather than just listening to our heart, and letting that be our own personal guide.
We find ways to play along when it serves us, and as we develop, we create our own unique mix of resistant behaviors, be it open rebelliousness, getting revenge, lying to or cheating on others, or numbing and distracting ourselves in any number of ways from the pain we feel in denying ourselves and our true feelings.
From that place, each of us has built multiple expectations that are still active and running right now that not only do not serve us, but are more than likely working in direct opposition to what we want for our lives.
This is not how we were meant to live.
In finding where our personal expectations have been set, we need not go in search of them. We need not focus solely upon finding and pulling the weeds in order to cultivate a healthy garden. All that is needed is to be aware when they naturally arise, and in that moment, rather than running the same old negative pattern, make a better, conscious choice for yourself.
Let me illustrate. Let’s say I’m feeling a bit off, or not in my usual good- feeling place, and I go down to check the mail, and find a bill there. I open it up, find that it’s bigger than I thought, and feel a bit of fear or panic. Soon I find myself searching job sites from this feeling place of scarcity. Now, from this vibration, this energetic place of focusing on the problem and feeling that fear in my gut, how likely is it that I’ll find the perfect opportunity to turn things around? Pretty close to nil.
So where was my expectation there? Where was the opportunity to make a better feeling choice? The moment I felt fear or panic. That is my indicator – my inner alert system that is telling me that I am, in that moment, at a crossroads – the choice point.
If I “do nothing,” autopilot kicks in, and whatever expectations I have in place will guide my actions. If those expectations are based in fear or scarcity or something negative (like Murphy’s Law), it’s easy to find oneself doing things like digging through want ads looking for a job we don’t want in the first place; we let fear and panic and scarcity take the wheel, and later wonder how we ended up in a ditch.
When we begun to establish new expectations and patterns, however, based on unconditional love, following your bliss, abundance, and the knowledge that all is truly well throughout the universe, we will instead find ourselves cruising through life with a smile on our face, laughter in your heart, and appreciation for everything you have and everything that is on it’s way to you – no matter what challenge you may be currently facing. This is our natural state.
Whether you expect things to work out or expect them to fail, they do. When you expect to find the relationship you seek, or to struggle for it in it’s absence, you get that. Whether you expect to reach the milestones you’ve set for yourself, or to never get close to them, you get your expectation.
How does this work? Law of attraction. In the way that I’ve mentioned before about not being able to find your keys when you believe that they’re lost, what you expect determines what thoughts and ideas you have access to.
Every expectation we have becomes the filter through which we see the world. It becomes a focal point, and we begin to see the “proof” of that focal point wherever we look. If we’re looking to prove how bad things are we expect to find evidence of this. And no matter what, we will always find it.
The caveat from this perspective, is that this is all we can find. In focusing this way, we filter out the proof of how great things are or even can be. Even when we are face-to-face with something amazing, we will, because of our expectation, focus on its flaws, seek out the aspects that we don’t like, and wait for “the other shoe to drop.”
You can choose differently. You can shift your perspective to seeing the perfection in the imperfections and loving yourself for the unique imperfect being that you are. You can have your own paradigm shift in your expectations for what it is indeed possible.
I came across a very simple yet powerful tool for opening yourself up and allowing inspired ideas to flow to you. It’s also a lot of fun to play with. Here’s the game:
1. Choose something you really want. (Example: Getting paid to do what I love.)
2. Make a statement of knowing that you will have this, or even better, that you already have it.
(I’m going to be well-paid to do what I love.)
3. Add this phrase to the start of your statement: “I don’t know how, but…”
4. Say this statement out loud to yourself, or to anyone and everyone, as frequently as possible.
(I don’t know how, but I am already being well-paid to do what I love.)
5. Pay attention to how you feel before and after saying this. Write down any ideas that come to you.
I’ll be discussing this game in greater depth in future posts, but for now, have fun playing with it, and exploring the possibilities for changing your own expectations, and with them, your life.