Before this fuck-up of a year is over, I wanna talk about the “E” word You know, the E word. The one that gets you hurt, in trouble, puts your foot in your mouth, the stick up your ass, and your cart in front of your horse.
THE, E word.
Expectations. No, not the great ones…
I want to talk about this so we can all get clear together about the not so small truth that expectations are getting in the way of progress, and happiness, and well, life, really. Not just mine, not just yours, ours. All of ours, and often.
You see, when we expect we create a storyline in our head that must be carried out in order to feel good.
When we expect an event to go a certain way and it does we are mostly satisfied and feel right or successful. When it doesn’t, we can feel a sense of failure, of loss, of disappointment, of dissatisfaction.
Sometimes we even pout about it. For reals. Even us adults. It just looks a lot more like passive aggressive snark than it does foot stomping and bottom lip quivering, usually.
Now I am not talking about intention or boundary setting. I am not talking about getting clear about what you are inviting in, what’s acceptable to you, what you are seeking to grow into and from what you are moving away. I’m talking about an unspoken feeling of assumed knowing. A must. A should. A have to.
A fixed mindset about an outcome.
For example, when I expect my day to go like I planned it in the morning and by 10am it’s already derailed onto an alternate and less productive route I might begin to resist, tense up, write a pithy post on social media and try to laugh it off. But inside, I’m probably still trying to find my way back to the original plan while chastising myself for all the reasons I’m not there yet. It doesn’t feel so good.
When I expect someone else to behave a certain way, and they don’t, I get angry or annoyed, or grouchy. I have a hard time seeing them as even partially right, or kind or loving. I’m just upset that I didn’t get what I (sooooo righteously) wanted.
This Christmas I expected my husband to love the perfectly useful and practical gift I got him. I was sure it, and I, was right, because I am always such a good gift giver. Obviously. Except he hated it. A lot a bit. And, because his reaction failed to meet my expectation — I first assumed he “didn’t get it,” then went on to point out “all the things I do every day for him that he doesn’t even notice,” and then finally spiraled out of anger and into negative self talk.
I expected the election to go a different way. I expected more out of the American people. I expected kindness and logic to win. I was wrong, and it hurt and I take my share of the responsibility. I did not take enough action to help it get there. I did not make justice my job, as one of my teachers would say. My ideas and expectations didn’t result in anything other than sadness.
So. Now I hope that’s clear. Expectations = not helpful in growth or happiness.
But what to replace them with then? Intentional action. A growth mindset about your own thinking, and about outcomes. A focus on your WHY and not the how and the what and the who or where and when.
Instead of setting a hard and fast desired result, work from and toward a reason you want that outcome in the first place. Consider what is available and possible if you get it. What will it bring you closer to, and why does that matter?
When you can identify why you want it, you can identify your intention. And with that, you can begin to draw in what it really is you want to create.
At the end of the day I want to feel as though I have done my best to take care of my responsibilities, my family, and myself so that we can have peace at home. What that looks like is presence and adaptability. That intention is to be grounded.
In relationships and interactions I want kindness and respect to dominate the space so we all feel seen and valued. What that looks like is listening. That intention is love.
In politics, I want justice and equality and progress so everyone has access to the same freedoms. What that looks like is action. That intention is awareness.
And that Christmas present? All I wanted to was for my husband to feel loved. What that looks like is asking him how he wants it to be shown. That intention is humility.
In moving forward, let’s move away from the E word and toward intentional action. Let’s look at our why, let’s invite in our intention, and let’s keep rolling in and with that flow while we get there.
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