Excommunicating Expectations: Why and How

December 30, 2019

An abstract, impressionist painting with many bright colors.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Someone shared an article with me saying that we often have a desire to “get off the bus” even for a little bit, when our lives don’t meet our expectations. But what are expectations and why are they so important to us?

We often hear, “The less you expect, the less disappointed you’ll be.” Does it mean we need to lower our standards? Does it mean we are afraid of being disappointed? What exactly does it mean? I’ve thought a lot about it and have always had a problem with this statement. People were telling me not to expect a lot from my boyfriend, my mother or my friends. This was annoying because I didn’t understand what they meant—that I didn’t deserve a lot, that I wasn’t important enough or was it something else entirely?

My relationship with my children held the key. I never expected anything from them. I just loved them, without any agenda and didn’t treat as extensions of my ego. When they needed my help, I provided it without thinking of demanding gratitude; I knew they were grateful, so why would I? When they made mistakes, I knew this was the only way for them to learn life’s lessons. When we disagreed—well, we disagreed. Surprisingly enough, I always got a lot more from them than I thought they should give me. Little did I know then that letting go of any expectations allowed me to live my life more freely and happily.

All expectations are unproductive, both in and out of relationships.

An abstract, impressionist painting with many bright colors.

“Invasion” by Chelsea Criger

Lessons Learned:

  • If we can become self-sufficient in every respect, we won’t need to expect anything from other people.
  • If we are happy by ourselves and with ourselves, we won’t need other people to make us happy.
  • If we let go of our fear of being judged, we won’t need other people to validate our actions.
  • If we accept the fact that everyone’s reality is a result of their conditioning, we won’t expect other people to see eye to eye with us.
  • If we realize that our negative behavior is a manifestation of our fears, we’ll give others who misbehave more empathy.

These actions should only come from being self-assured and compassionate. Disappointments carried over from our previous experiences have no place here. Absence of expectations doesn’t set us lower; it lift us, helping us to take life at our own pace and with our own set of rules.

Examine your expectations, how they make you feel, how they affect your life. Ask yourself if you really need them. See if you could follow the quick guide I’ve written above, to lessen your “expectations load.” Give it a try and see how it would make you feel. Be very patient and kind to yourself, praising yourself for any success you achieve, no matter how small. An army of tiny successes amount to a great victory!

It’s all about what result you want: being healthy or not, happy or not, etc. Each person decides for themselves, depending on their mindset, so we should never be judged objectively.


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