Is it fair to expect things?
Through life we often hold a series of expectations. Often these expectations are societal however, we also hold expectations for ourselves, our friends, our relationships and our families.
While there is nothing wrong with having expectations, sometimes they can land us in egoic traps and force us off the path of the divine and into a place where we feel defeated and let down.
In society, there are certain expectations put in place to keep things in order. For example, you can expect that people are going to stop at a red light, that the price of the apples will be the same at the checkout as on the sign, and at one o’clock you will take your lunch break. Even though these things may not happen all the time, for the most part they are reasonable expectations that are often fulfilled.
When it comes to expectations in our relationships however, this is where it turns into a bit of a grey area. Is it fair to put our expectations on others? Often the expectations we put on others stem deeper from some harsh expectations that we put on ourselves.
What happens when these expectations are not met? Do we shake our head in disappointment? Cut them out of our lives? Or is there a different approach?
What is the most conscious way to handle a situation that goes awry?
There is a famous story about a monk who was accused of impregnating a girl in the local village. The monk was not responsible but instead of pleading his innocence, he just responded with “is that so.” After the baby was born, it was handed over to the accused monk to look after all by himself. To this, the monk simply replied “is that so,” never arguing or never trying to plead his case.
Eventually, the girl told the truth and the monk was forgiven, of course to all of this he replied- “is that so.”
While this monk is at a stage of enlightenment where he is so non-attached to everything, everyone and all expectations, for a lot of us we are just not at that place, but we can use elements of his behaviour for a solid resolution.
Repeat the words to yourself- “Is that so”.
Feel how it allows a sense of freedom, a disassociation towards the expectation and an acceptance of what is.
For example, let’s say you go into a store and the price quoted on the item is not the same as what you read on the sign. You can do two things- fight and argue with the clerk and demand that the price is honored, or you can say to yourself “is that so” and work out from there what you want to do. Either you pay the difference or you don’t. Simple.
Now of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t assert yourself politely and inform the clerk over the price discrepancy however, by not becoming attached to the idea that “you are right and they are wrong” you create a different energetic space that allows you to not be affected by the external situation.
Not only does it keep you from becoming stressed but it also keeps the situation positive. Its very likely too that when the clerk doesn’t feel you fighting back, that they will be more open to honoring the price difference rather than if you stand there and make a scene.
While this example is somewhat banal, you can really use it towards any expectations that may not have been met. While certain things may seem unfair you can either choose to lament and struggle within them, or you can just accept them. Sometimes by accepting, it opens our mind to new possibilities that you wouldn’t have perhaps noticed before.
In terms of expectations that we put on our relationships, there really is no room for them. Things rarely go the way we expect so why set ourselves up for disappointment? Why not just go with the flow of life and see where it takes you?
When we have expectations in relationships, such as- “I am sure he is going to propose next year” or “She should come to my family house for Christmas again this year” – we cap their potential and restrict their growth. We also limit the natural rhythm and flow of the individuals in the relationship which can lead to conflicts later down the track.
Allow your partner to surprise you, release the expectations you place upon them by looking within yourself. Do you uphold to the expectations you place upon your partner? Sometimes we have to come forward first and lead by example.
Of course, there are certain expectations that are needed in relationships such as staying faithful, telling the truth etc, but again, if these are compromised we can go back to the statement “is that so”.
Another important point to remember is that when your expectations are not met, you are just as much a part of it too. Nothing in this world and especially in relationships is isolated, all of it is working in synergy and chances are if its happening to you, there is something there too that you need to learn and grow from.
Self expectations are the trickiest to let go of because often they are the most deepest and attached belief structures that we hold.
Look deep inside, what expectations are you placing on yourself?
Often we make decisions about our career and our relationships at such a young age that we forget that we can change them! Just because we chose law in college, doesn’t mean we are expected to follow through just “because”.
A lot of these expectations limit us and force us into “little boxes” that are restrictive and not conducive to growth or self-love.
One of the easiest ways to find out what our self- expectations are is to look at the values we impose on ourselves and how we respond when something doesn’t fit into them. If the reaction is hostile, chances are the expectations are too engrained and too attached.
Let your expectations go as they do not define you, understanding who you are at your core will allow you to do that without feeling like you are removing your integrity or reducing your motivation.
“When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be”- Mandy Hale
Learning how to let go and not be attached to anything, expectations or otherwise is definitely something that takes practice, but it’s not impossible.
Just remember “IS THAT SO.”