Great Expectations - Great Heartache
The most powerful part of mindfulness practice is self-awareness. It’s really the heart of mindfulness and is essential in finding your true joy and happiness. Becoming more aware of your thoughts, behaviors and physical being is really the key to mindful living and living in the present moment.
So, with that said, today I want to talk about expectations and how they impact our mental health.
This is one that I still struggle with, at times, because it just seems natural to hold expectations on the world and people around us. Many of us learn how to hold expectations as a child through our parents, family member and peers. Of course, these conditions aren’t instilled in us through bad intentions. Our parents, and the people who love us, only want to protect us and keep us from harm in any way possible. We are conditioned out of love and no one is to blame. However, these very expectations can hold us back and keep us stuck in a place where we aren’t free to truly express ourselves and we begin to feel things like disappointment, anger and jealousy. Feelings that don’t serve us and keep us down with doubt and fear.
I feel that holding expectations are a way of having the need to control the things and people in our life. If we expect things to go a certain way and they come through for us then we get a sense of fulfillment and place our happiness around it. However, when they don’t go the way we expect then we take it personally and fall into the well of resentment, anger, disappointment or hurt. Many times we can stay in that well for a very long time and hold grudges that only hurt ourselves even more. What’s the point of that, right?
For me, it’s a waste of energy to give to someone or some ‘thing’ else the responsibility of my happiness. My happiness is up to me and only me. Life is just too dang short to wallow in the unnecessary anguish of hurt and pain on something that I have no control over.
Release your Expectations
For the next two weeks I want you to pay attention to where you hold expectations. It might be with co-workers, spouses/partners, family members or it might show up on things that happen in the outside world. Through those expectations what was the outcome, was it in your favor or did it ‘fail you’? Regardless, notice the feelings and emotions that you took on from that outcome. And really take time to sit with these observations and write them down if you feel inclined to.
As an example, I had an expectation that one of my best friend’s would call me on my birthday. I expected her to call me first thing in the morning as she always did every year. But she didn’t. So later that day I checked in with her via text and didn’t mention my birthday. I never got a response but knew that she had messaged another friend of ours, so I knew she was OK. My old response was to get disappointed, and I started to feel a little sad and I even felt my body become a little tense. I was able to stop myself and take a moment to reflect on ‘why’ I was allowing myself to react in this way once again. Why was I taking it so personal when I didn’t even know the circumstance behind her not calling me? Whatever was behind it was out of my control and our friendship wasn’t worth the assumption that it was. This is how the old, conditioned mind will creep up on us, always when we least expect it! Lol (no pun intended!)
Again, this is going to take time to fully understand why and how expectations can impact our mental health, but I have a good sense that you are willing to try. You will be amazed at how often you do expect things in your life and try to manipulate your life’s course but it’s time to get a hold of them and release them in exchange for a well-nourished mental and physical wellness.
Wanna chat more with me on this topic?
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I look forward to connecting with you and supporting you however I can