When you have no expectations, you have no disappointments and you open yourself to the realm of infinite possibility, where happiness and abundance simply fall into your lap.
The above quote was a piece of advice told to me recently which really hit home. And that is the reason why I want to share it with you.
Expectations are sadly a part of our daily lives, and most of us are conditioned to be driven and live by them and to attempt to realize them, and this creates a mixture of opportunity and pressure when we begin to realize that expectations often lead to disappointments. We are constantly expecting more not only from ourselves but also from others, and when we are let down, this can lead to feelings of unhappiness and let downs.
The moment you got your first reality check in the form of a disappointment was the moment you began to live in fear of having any expectations. Situational Expectation occurs when our expectations lead to disappointment as a certain situation does not turn out the way we wanted or we do not get the anticipated satisfaction from achieving a result. And this sadly is what governs us in today’s society, and being subject to this type of disappointment when expectations are not realized, can lead to us falling victim to feelings of insecurities, sadness and many other mental health issues.
Another form of expectation disappointment stems from Interpersonal Expectation. Our expectation leads to disappointment when we are let down by a friend, relative, someone we love or unpleasantly surprised by the actions of another. And the last form is Self-imposed Expectation. In this instance, our expectation leading to disappointment occurs when we do not live up to the standards or goals we have set for ourselves. In other words, we are disappointed in ourselves and the results we’ve achieved or failed to achieve.
Think about the thoughts you have when your expectations lead to disappointment of one form or another. Are they positive, uplifting, and calming? Do they keep you in the present moment? Are you able to direct them and quiet them? Are they kind, empowering, and supportive? The answer to these questions is most likely no. Your experience directly follows your thoughts; therefore your mind can sometimes be your best friend or in this case your worst enemy.
When we are let down due to either Situational, Interpersonal or Self-imposing expectations, we start to obsess over what did or didn’t happen, constantly tuning in to the same mental thoughts of “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” We judge ourselves and engage in negative self-talk. We start to doubt the actions we took, scrutinize what we could have done better, what we should have done better. How we could have changed the outcome… and suddenly, we’re left with feelings of guilt, regret, fear, anxiety, and worry.
Over previous weeks I have tried to choose the ‘no expectations and no disappointments’ approach to overcome these feelings and being let down.
The first step to overcoming this was by understanding MY STORY. The vast majority of what and how we think is based on a story or an opinion we have about ourselves, others, and how life works.
This story is built up based on things we saw, heard or experienced. We have formed judgments and created beliefs about ourselves, others and life in general and these judgments can unfortunately be pretty deep and can be a cause of sometimes a one off or repetitive events and let downs where we have been let down because of our expectations.
These let downs could be linked to friendships, promises, broken promises, words said, actions, love.. the list is endless.
When we start to understand our stories and where these negative thoughts come from, we can start working on the rest.
Our reality follows our thoughts, so better thoughts create a better reality.
Redirecting your thoughts is particularly useful when it comes to negative self-talk. When our expectation leads to disappointment sometimes the only certainty we can find is in the judgments we have of ourselves. We can look back at what we did that got us to the unexpected place we are in and blame ourselves. Although it does not feel great, it does satisfy our minds need for certainty. We all have an inner critic who says things like “I am not good enough,” “It was my fault,” “I should have done that differently,” “I am a failure,” “I’m not worthy enough,” “I need to be thinner,” and “Everyone else is better than me.” But we need to just remind ourselves that simple phrase: “No expectations, no disappointments.”
We often choose to believe meanings that make us miserable. We suffer because we hold on for dear life to the belief that what we are going through is bad and that if our life were different or we had done something differently in some way, it would be so much better. All of us at times fall into the trap of making these assumptions. But what is actually true is that believing thoughts that make us feel bad continues to make us feel bad. So we need to make conscious efforts to refocus and improve our moods when they start creeping back up on us.
What I do in these situations, is I sit down and relax. Take a few deep breaths. Throw on my favourite songs, and get some fresh air. Then I try to refocus my thoughts, and look to the positives. Each time I feel disappointment and fear tugging at me because I let expectations rule me, I acknowledge that my mind is looping back around towards a negative space where I let myself expect too much from someone or a certain situation and try to turn my thoughts around and remember that I need to make sure I am always number 1.
It takes time, and a lot of effort to be able to master it. Believe me, after I spent years disappointed because I let my expectations of others and even myself rule me, it has only been in recent months that I started working on changing that mindset. I lost out on time. Time and energy. And only when learning to manage my expectations, putting myself first did it start to make a difference.
So here’s the thing to remember: If you expect nothing, you won’t waste time waiting or worrying. Instead, you will spend that time concerned with only your happiness in the moment, not what could potentially be.
“Thought. It’s at the heart of everything we experience, from monsters to angels and from problems to possibilities. And since we have an infinite potential for new thought, we’re only ever one new thought away from a completely different experience of being alive.”