The Jekyll and Hyde of Expectations
Expectations. An innocent enough word, BUT can also be a very loaded word. A word that encourages us to reach for more in ourselves and others, BUT also a word that can create disconnect and miscommunication if used rigidly.
The Importance of Expectations.
Setting a standard of expectation is important. Since we are creators of our own lives, we need to set intentions of what we expect in our lives. If we don’t do this we live our lives by default and often feel victim to our circumstances. When we expect more from life, we receive more from life.
We attract into our lives based on what we expect to see. If we expect good things to come our way… they do. If we expect that anything that could go wrong, it will…it will. So on this level, expectations are important.
Most of us have been exposed to the ideas of – expect more of yourself; people live up to the level of your expectations; expect more, receive more…
And these are all true, BUT there is also a flip side.
The Drawback of Expectations.
Where the challenges, frustrations, and hard feelings arise is in our attachments and misunderstandings of expectations. We are hard on ourselves when we fall short of what we expect of ourselves; we are hard on others when they don’t live up to our spoken and unspoken expectations.
Be honest, how often do you expect others be able to read your mind?!
When you set unrealistic expectations, when you are attached to your expectations, or when you place your own expectations on others you WILL encounter a plethora of challenging emotions – frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, resentment, lack of control…
It’s important to recognize that the source of the problem does NOT lie within the others (spouse, children, friends) who are not meeting your expectations, but lies within yourself. More often than not your attachment to expectations lies in your need for control in your life.
When everything goes as expected, you feel in control. The truth of this means you are then always relying on outside forces to determine your peace of mind. BUT peace of mind comes from within…regardless, and sometimes in spite of, what’s going on outside.
We encounter different forms of pain when our expectations are not met, whether it be not getting the job we expected to get, our children not behaving a certain way, or a friend not taking our advice.
I hear many cases of struggle due to the simple occurrence of expectations:
- Not enjoying a trip because you expected the food at the resort to be better
- Causing a fight with your parents because you expected them to know you needed help
- Not fully enjoying your child’s sport because you expected them to end up on a better team
- Causing hard feelings because you expected someone to respond to a situation differently
- Causing a child to rebel because you expect them to do things your way, in your time frame
A Disruption to My Peace and Calm
I recently encountered a situation where my expectations could have easily derailed my enjoyment, peace and calm. I really enjoy going to the spa. It’s not just the massage that I enjoy, but it’s the whole spa experience that I truly enjoy.
I’ve been to a few spas where the whole ambience set the tone of relaxation for me – receiving special treatment the moment I walked in the door, being given a locker, a robe, slippers, tea/water, and being ushered into a relaxing seating area to lounge while waiting for the time of my massage.
So, I was quite excited about going to a new spa I had never been to before. BUT upon my arrival my expectations of special treatment were not met. No chance to change into a comfy robe before my massage, no slippers, no chance to put away everything I had brought with me (I always bring my journal and books…not to mention my winter coat at this time of year in the Rocky Mountains!), no relaxing tea and soothing music…and to top it off the massage therapist arrived to pick me up a little late.
Expecting the treatment I received from other spas, I could feel my mood shift and I was getting irritated. I was annoyed I had to lug around my jacket and bags; I was annoyed that I didn’t get to settle into a comfy robe and enjoy a tea before my massage; and I was annoyed that I wasn’t properly greeted (in my opinion of course!). In general, I was frustrated that my spa experience was NOT living up to the expectations I had set for it.
However, being aware of the downward spiral expectations can take you, and wanting to be open to experiencing the joy of the unexpected, I was quick to reframe the situation by letting go of my attachment of how I initially thought it “should” go, and be open to a new experience…and as it turned out, it ended up being one of the best massages I had ever experienced (albeit, I little painful in the rump area…who knew!!!). I was then able to make the best of the experience and enjoy my day there.
Had I continued with my initial expectations, I would not have been in the frame of mind to receive the fantastic massage that I did, because my focus would have been on the frustrations…and more than likely also on my need to feel “right” by letting them know of their inadequacies – whether verbally or passive aggressively.
…Let’s be honest, how often do we use passive aggressive means to try to get our point across?! Once again, expecting them to know what we’re trying to communicate!
As with everything, I believe there really is no good and evil, as alluded to with Jekyll and Hyde. However, when caught in the trap of rigid and inflexible expectations, it certainly can feel like “evil” has entered!
The key to peace and calm is being able to go with the flow and be flexible with your expectations – whether it be with yourself, spouse, children, friends, or experiences.
…And not to mention, many of life’s adventures lie in the unexpected! Be open to them!
Stay tuned for next weeks blog where I will breakdown the keys to letting go of expectations.
Trisha Savoia is founder/owner of Absolute Awareness, and creator of the The Integrity Code, and The Soulful Parent Courses. Through her courses, writing, and speaking she uses her skills, experience, and intuition as a mother, teacher, Life & Parent Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist to help guide parents to recover their true selves and their intuition, while at the same time learn how to parent so their children can do the same.