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Expectations as a Stumbling Block

November 29, 2011

“The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” 

~ Eli Khamarov

You have been planning something out – you’ve made plans and arrangements and have been getting excited about the upcoming event then something happens; something that throws a wrench into the works and the plans are canceled. How do you react?

Civil rights activist Eliot Larson once said that “Anger always comes from frustrated expectations,” and he had a point. I’ve met people who go absolutely berserk when confronted with a disappointment, others who sulk or get depressed, and some few who are able to shrug it off and move onto something else. Which begs the question, what, exactly, ties us to the outcomes of certain situations?

Why is it so important that something happen in the way we’ve been planning out? And why do so many seemingly attach all of their hopes and dreams to these expectations and get so worked up about it when they don’t turn out the way that they expected?

Attachment is the answer and the key to this question.  We are not content simply to let events unfold as they are supposed to, but insist on trying to shape events to meet up to our expectations.  The thing is that everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to; without our help.  We simply have to trust that the universe is arranging events in the way that they are supposed to happen and listen to that inner voice before we take any action and trust that it is leading us in the direction in which we are supposed to go.

When we do this, all the bumps and kinks go out of our lives and things start falling into place with an alacrity that some may find alarming, but also exhilarating, for finally you are living the life that you are supposed to live.

But it is not only events that we attach our expectations to. We also tend to attach expectations to individuals. We build them up in our head as being a certain thing, and then, when they don’t live up to those expectations; when they do or say something that shatters this illusion, we snap, accusing them of being or doing something that has absolutely no basis in reality.

The worst part about attaching personal expectations to an individual, however, is when you accept the unrealistic expectations that others have of you; when out of fear or obligation you attempt to live up to their hopes and dreams of you (or for you) even if those hopes and dreams are not your own.

To do so is probably the worst thing you can do, for when you take on others’ expectations for you, not only do you cease to grow yourself, but you also stunt their growth, for by relying on you to do or be certain things for them, you keep them from discovering the true extent of their own personal power. Perhaps it was Frederick Perls who summed this up most succinctly when he said “I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.

Sound selfish? If you adhere to society’s definition (which relies heavily on individuals plugging themselves into a particular slot and then fulfilling the expectations of that definition), then yes, it is selfish.  But if instead you adhere to the wisdom of the universe and are listening to its guidance in your individual lives, then you will be able to say with the Dali Lama:

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.”

And in opening yourself up to the true nature of reality; to the true nature of the universe, you will find yourself living a far more authentic and meaningful life than anything you could have dreamed up for yourself.

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