Expectations are tricky. They’re often one of the most difficult things to manage. Expectations can build momentum and take on a life of their own. They usually have painful effects. It was an agonizing experience that helped me learn to expect nothing and appreciate everything.
In a quest to show myself some love, I decided to get in better shape. I made a goal to exercise a minimum of four times a week and lose ten pounds by the end of the year. With patience and gentleness, I had developed better eating habits by the year’s end. I lost some weight but it wasn’t the expected ten pounds. I was exercising more regularly but not four times every single week.
Although I was working out more, I was also listening to my body and not forcing exercise because it was a particular day of the week. Even though I had made significant progress and was taking much better care of myself, I was deeply disappointed I hadn’t achieved my expected goals. I felt beaten.
Fortunately, I decided to dig a little deeper into my expectations. How did I create these expectations in the first place? I discovered my overachieving mind had been feeding me unrealistic expectations of reaching specific results. It was an impractical all-or-nothing approach I’d learned at a very young age from my perfectionistic parents. It didn’t allow me to celebrate small successes that fell short of the mark. No wonder I felt defeated!
I needed to explore further. What was my pattern in creating my expectations? I realized the more I felt vulnerable and insecure in my appearance, the more I ramped up expectations of myself. There was a fear of not being good enough creating and fueling the expectations.
I learned there’s nothing wrong with having expectations but it’s what I do with them and how I hang my happiness on them that creates problems. They place demands on me and others. The energy of expectation has a heaviness because I’m attaching it to a specific outcome of events. My expectations become a burden I need to let go of.
The gift: As I release expectations, I find more peace and joy. What works best for me is to stop creating expectations to start with. If I write out a plan for the future, I don’t attach expectations to that plan. I narrow the possibilities when I set up a specific outcome. Gratitude for what happens is a much healthier and loving approach. Peace begins when expectation ends.