Sunday, February 6, 2011

Expectations: Love Them or Hate Them, They're Yours

I've been forced to look long and hard at the expectations I hold in my life.  I've been pushing myself to transcend a very difficult to accept disappointment recently.  My expectations were through the roof.  This was something I believed in with every fiber of my being.  Others and I have spent years praying about it.  I've acquired new knowledge to be able to understand how it works and implemented that knowledge with success thus far.  I've repeatedly overcome another person's resistance at allowing it to happen.  I've had over a dozen or so practice runs at it.  I've invested resources until I had nothing left to give.  I've spent years preparing for it and years working or volunteering myself to it.  I've always given 100% towards it.  It's an epic and life changing event.  It deserved nothing less than the best I had to give.  I lived it, breathed it, slept it, and had recurring nightmares about it (still do actually).  In the process of all of this, I even lost some of myself to it.  Thankfully I realized that and made changes to find myself again.  Needless to say, having put so much into it, I was beyond devastated when my expectations blew out from under me.  I'm well aware that I control my reactions to that which occurs.  Going through this has really pushed me to pull out the arsenal of knowledge and tools that I have learned to get to that point.  

I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to have those resources.  I'm pretty sure if I didn't have them I'd still be stuck in the initial shock of it all, cursing the circumstances, crying, venting about it, etc.  Yes, I'd still be stuck in full on resistance to what is and that's a really bad place to be.  Resistance doesn't allow us to transcend.  It's futile.  Therefore, as I cope with what has happened, I keep reminding myself of the “ABC” thing that came to me one day while meditating.  Accept that whatever is going on 'is what it is', be present in where you are or what you're doing at the moment you're resisting, and then choose gratitude, even if you have to reach outside of the situation at hand to something else.  An example of reaching outside of a situation would be losing your job but being grateful that you still have your health and can go on to work elsewhere.  An example of finding gratitude within a situation such as that would be finding gratitude for the skills learned, people met, contacts made, and knowledge and experience gained.  Once I'm able to accept a situation I'm then able to find the lesson, plan the next step, let go and find peace.  It was during this part of the process that I found the quote I posted by Maurice Setter about expectations.   

"Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold." - Maurice Setter

As I began to grapple with the effects of the devastation for myself and those connected to the event, it brought front and center all the other areas of my life where I have expectations.  Expectations for me and of course my expectations for others.  Do I change my expectations in other areas of my life because of this blow?  Are my standards too high?  I'd already had a few life situations stewing on this topic before the big blow that had caused me to begin actively evaluating whom I spend my time with in work, friendships and companionship.  I'd already been taking a hard look at who reciprocates the relationships I give them.  

For instance, in my business there are people who want to be taught the ropes but who aren't willing to take the knowledge you share with them time and time and time again and actually implement it.  Learning curve I get, not learning or asking me to do it for you, I don't get.  Probably why so many of the leaders in my industry remind each other that some will, some won't, so what, you work with the willing.

For myself at least, when I don't get what I expect I'm not satisfied.  I believe the discontent we humans feel is simply affirmation of the soul that we do deserve more than we are getting. Without the discontent we would continue to give to others until we're bankrupt of giving with our selflessness.  We may even never know what it is like to receive ourselves.  There has to be a balance.  After all, the old adage is you can't give what you haven't already cultivated yourself.  

In my own life I'll even go as far to say that I can be told thank you, made to laugh, and even made to feel thought of often and still feel discontent that I'm not getting all that I'm expecting to receive.  To many that may sound crazy.  What in the world am I expecting where I get all that I'm still unsatisfied?  Do you see it?  Expect, as in expectations.  Therein I find the issue.  Someone I've known a long time said that, "Expectations can be dangerous....You have to put thought into action and decide whether another is capable of meeting your expectations or not. If they are then communication is key, they must know what is expected in order to deliverIf they are not realistically capable of delivering what one might expect, then thought becomes key and in the spirit of self preservation one must decide if they are willing to change or lower said expectations in order to avoid disappointment. I would not expect a zebra to lose its stripes, but if for some reason I did, should I be upset with the zebra when it kept its stripes?"  Thank you for the insight.  I truly couldn't of said it better myself.  

Frankly, despite the big blow, I have a lot to be grateful for and I see that. I also see that discontent is the universe pushing us to act on something that's not working for us.  How do we take such action? Typically with our voice first, just like my old friend said. We talk. We share. We say it like it is, no matter how much we might have reservations about the outcome.  Besides, if one can't voice their expectations (including when they change) then they are in essence not giving the other person all that they 'think' they are giving anyway.  

After all, we are given thoughts to communicate with so that we can share information.  When we push our voice down and fear its use, we are denying our authentic self.  Don't do this.  No matter what the road block is, imagined or not, step out in courage and use your voice.  Do not fear the outcome.  It's not the lesson.  The lesson is overcoming the roadblock to begin with and finding your voice and your own expectations.  For me at least, when I've done so, the powerlessness I'd felt before by not using my voice goes away.  By using my voice I allow myself to become detached from the outcome too and in essence I regain my authentic self.  Expectations, love them or hate them, resist or embrace them, they are still yours and mine to choose. 

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