Thoughts on Life: Expectations
Expectations. We all have them, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. The unfortunate downside to expectations is that they ultimately lead to either fulfillment or disappointment. Is it possible to avoid the disappointment aspect of expectation, or is that inevitable? Is it feasible to adopt a life philosophy where one can expect nothing, and in return receive everything by the very irony of having no expectations? There is constant potential in our everyday life. We expect people to return our calls, to follow through with plans, to treat us with respect, to be honest, caring, loving, truthful, consistent in their behaviors, and so much more. I could spend all day listing the inadvertent number of expectations that we subject ourselves to on a daily basis. It is seemingly impossible for every single person or situation to live up to ones expectations, no matter how insignificant they might be. Whether we are knowingly aware of it or not, we are let down.
We also create expectations for ourselves. We produce the same high standards for ourselves that we do for others, and more often than not, those self-imposed standards are even higher. Do you think it is possible that each and every let-down we encounter is the result of our own personal dissatisfaction? For example; a friend not calling back is only a reminder of the time you forgot to call someone else back or finding out someone wasn’t truthful is recognizant of your own shortcomings of honesty. Is every expectation ultimately a reflection of our own desire to be a better a person and the constant struggle we have in doing so? If we didn’t have any expectations of ourselves, would we still be let down by external situations?
Having expectations is not necessarily a negative thing; it promotes positivity, ambition and most importantly, hope. Unfortunately, it is the way we deal with our expectations that can ultimately lead to our downfall. We have several options. We can become emotionally closed off to them, thus avoiding any hurt or disappointment that comes with a lack of fulfillment or we can be overly eager and anticipatory thus being exceedingly let down or constantly disappointed when they aren’t fulfilled. We can also adopt a happy medium between those two extremes, understanding that not every expectation will lead to satisfactory results and thus avoiding the inevitable dissatisfaction that comes with them. I used to always say “If you expect nothing, you will never be let down, yet always pleasantly surprised.” As idealistic as this saying seems, I have found it is extremely difficult to live by and requires severe self-discipline and strength of mind. We want to expect only the best from people and from ourselves. We want to have faith that there is an abundance of honesty, love, hope and authenticity in the world. We want to see the good in ourselves and in humanity because to do so will bring forth peace of mind and eventually, enlightenment.
I see myself everyday being affected by my own expectations. There are constantly inconsistencies in my personal relationships, work, life, love, and everything in between. Because I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, I find myself constantly feeling disappointment from others, but more importantly, from myself. It’s a vicious cycle of wanting to release all expectations yet struggling to let go. There’s a certain high that comes from the fulfillment of expectations which virtually overcomes the disappointment aspect. Yet when I find myself giving 200% in my relationships and feeling like I’m only receiving less than 100% in return, it’s hard not to take that to heart, to feel let down and maybe even a bit resentful. It is certainly a cross to bear and one that will probably plague me for many years until I can learn to expect nothing. To reach the point of zero expectation, is to open the door to all possibility, learning from ones mistakes and the mistakes of others and using those lessons as a purveyor for personal growth and emotional development. In the end, this will hopefully lead to the attainment of peace of mind that we’ve all been searching for all along.