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What to Expect of Expectations

“Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred yesterday. Realize the past no longer holds you captive. It can only continue to hurt you if you hold on to it. Let the past go. A simply abundant world awaits.” Sarah Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

“An attitude of positive expectation is the mark of the superior personality.” Brian Tracy

“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.” Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

We sometimes expect too much of ourselves

These are nice quotes, I chose to share these with you because of their simple but powerful meaning. There is one quote that I am more familiar with, “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.” Expectations are like silent prayers that we make, where conditions and lists are laid down. What standards and benchmarks should be achieved in order for us to feel happy and satisfied. Some expectations are made more realistic than others. It is those who set their expectations so high, that such a tall order only makes their probable fall feel ever greater. We fall into the belief that if we wished for it, and worked on it hard enough, everything we ever wanted will come true. However, many of us have been disappointed by unmet expectations. So we know better, now don’t we?

It is healthy to have expectations, set them as high as you want. What needs to be hammered into our minds is that sometimes, life just falls short. We must accept whatever comes our way. Set your expectations as high as the heavens, but for heavens sake, don’t feel bad when you don’t reach the pinnacle. Expectations are meant to serve as a target, a goal. Not a determinant of success and failure. You are not a loser, if you don’t get what you expected. You are not less worthy, if you don’t get what you expected. You are not a bad person, if you don’t get what you want. Your expectations do not define who you are, or who you have to be in 5 or 10 years. We expect so much of ourselves, we often don’t see it as the cause of our unhappiness. In fact, expectations are the commands of our ego.

We live every moment expecting something. We begin our day expecting a smooth and pleasant day, we begin a relationship expecting undying romance, we start our careers expecting a bright future. I know i start something as mundane as lunch expecting something, i expect my order to come out right, my food to be warm and suited to my particular taste bud. I expect my drink to be chilled, without pits in my iced lemon tea. But what if I don’t get all these things? What if, the waiter decided to foil my day and serve me subpar lunch? Should I get upset, telling the waiter she has ruined my day?

Now, if your expectations were not met. What would you do? Do you:

A. Feel like a failure, then complain about it in your journal B. Blame others for ruining your life C. Wonder what more you could’ve done D. Move on with your life

I have days when i would jump from one to another. First getting upset, then blaming others, then feel guilty for blaming others, wondering what did i do wrong. But one thing is for sure, somehow, i always manage to move on from it. Unscathed, prepared and alive to live another day.

Unmet expectations, I know, are not the end of my world. It simply means the universe has other plans that i have yet to understand and discover.

It is important, nay, crucial that we understand this point. Perhaps it is even wise to change the idea a little, instead of just having an expectation, have a controlled awareness.

Tip 1: Be Aware of your Expectations. As mentioned earlier, we have expectations all throughout the day, be they big or small. Be mindful of these expectations, and acknowledge that they are there to guide and keep us present with what we are doing at that moment.

Tip 2: Have a Plan B To protect yourself from false hopes and discouragement, always have a Plan B – which is a plan to safeguard yourself. If you find your expectations are not met, do not let it bring you down. Expectations should be positive, it shouldn’t negatively impact you. For example, if you do a good job, you expect praise from your boss. If you boss doesn’t give you praise, should you feel foolish and stop doing a good job altogether? Have a Plan B for a softer landing, allowing faster recovery.

Tip 3: Understand the factors involved Expectations often are out of our control, we can’t control the outcome. Factors include, other people, nature, economy and society all contribute to the attainment of your expectations. Take sports for example, maybe Yoga. Some are more flexible than others, as a newbie, you expect yourself to get into a certain pose yet your body refuses to bend the way you expect it to. Do not push, do not force, says the Yoga instructor. Be more forgiving of yourself, understand the other factors involved.

So what can you expect from your expectations? You can expect that it is a draft, subject to editing. You can expect that it is just a plan, where the eventual outcome is beyond your control. You can expect that, like life, it either falls short or goes beyond. You can expect that everyone has expectations too, and some of them involves their expectations of you. And you can expect to be a little disappointed at times, but must bounce back and move on to the next.

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