The word expectation comes from the verb ‘to expect’, which in Spanish is translated as ‘Esperar’ (To wait). I believe this translation is so accurate, as having expectations is a sign that you are living your life waiting for something to happen. The question is: What are you really waiting for.
Today I am going to talk about why getting rid of expectations is a good idea, and I will provide you with some tools to do so if you so desire!
Why is a good idea to get rid of expectations?
– Expectations exist in the future:
Every time you preoccupy yourself with something that will happen or develop, every time you assume what should be, you are missing the present moment, so if you are into mindfulness and meditation, and you are aiming to become more present, getting rid of expectations sounds like a great idea.
– The expectations of what should be can determine how we feel in each of our experiences:
Imagine you are getting married, and you spend months before the special day thinking about the wedding and what you will look like and how it will be and all kinds of details of how everything will develop. What are the chances that the reality of the actual wedding matches 100% your expectations? What happens when it doesn’t? So, not only do expectations affect how we experience future events, they artificially raise the bar for happiness! Be honest, I’m sure we would all prefer something to ‘exceed’ our expectations and not just ‘meet’ them.
– Expectations lead to conditional happiness and conflicts:
When you let your expectations feed your mind, you live in a constant state of anticipation. This mindset can contribute greatly to what is known as conditional happiness: “When I have x or achieve y, I will be happy”. You can spend your entire life telling yourself the same story, because conditional happiness is never achieved. Its conditions attract new conditions. It is an endless vicious cycle. Expectations can also lead to conflict, as by expecting too much from others without expressing your feelings and needs, misunderstandings naturally arise!
… But what if I have a vision and I want to make it happen?
We all have expectations, they are natural and even essential! Imagine trying to live life with zero expectations, how long would it take you to cross a road if you weren’t allowed to ‘expect’ that cars would stop at the red light? But there is a fine line between creating your life and making decisions for your future, and having expectations. Having a vision and an action plan for making it happen is great, in fact, visualisation techniques are a very powerful tool when it comes to conjuring the energy and motivation needed for taking action!
As always, I recommend focusing on the process rather than the result. Use visualisation techniques, and do everything in your power to make your dreams happen, then surrender to the result. That way you will be more present and you will be able to accept what comes.
Acceptance is one of the best antidotes to Expectation.
When you accept what is out of your control and what is unpredictable, you are more able to focus on what you can do. This is crucial because the things which are important to us that we cannot control, are frequently in the hands of people we love! We often place expectations on our relationships, so accepting when people we love do not meet our expectations is not easy. We can assume they have betrayed us and feel disappointed, angry or defensive.
To help us to become more accepting, I propose a magical substitution for Expectations:
Setting Personal Boundaries
In reality, this tool is nothing magical, but maybe that’s a good thing, as our expectations force our loved ones to become fortune tellers and mind readers to guess what we need from them!
Learning to set boundaries is an essential tool for managing relationships and letting go of expectations, and the big difference between the two approaches is Language.
Expectations are shrouded in silence and secrecy, while boundaries are all about expressing our needs and desires honestly and vulnerably through non-violent communication.
If you don’t like it when your partner leaves the plates in the sink until the morning, but you have never expressed it… They don’t know! Your partner sees life through his or her unique perception and may have not even noticed that this is something that you feel upset about. We all think this way to begin with; we assume that what is important, or unimportant for us will be the same for others, which is why expectations fail. However, if you honestly express how you feel about a situation with love and non-violent communication, there is a better chance that tomorrow night the plates will be cleaned.
Substitute expectations for expressions of self.
NOTE: I want to thank a French client of mine for inspiring this blog.
Since moving back to Spain I had noticed some resistance with the idea of setting boundaries with many of my Spanish clients. I had translated my programs from English to Spanish and thanks to a French client (so many languages involved!) I realised that the resistance was coming from a pure language connotation. In Spanish and French, there is no perfectly equivalent word for boundaries… You can translate the word as either: Frontiers, or Limits. These two words have a negative tone, which meant that my women didn’t want to use them when communicating with their loved ones!
My French client realised that she had no problem setting boundaries with strangers but she struggled when setting them with her closest people. We looked at it, and realised that it was due to the perception of ‘boundaries’ in her mother language! She thought of boundaries as frontiers, as something negative and limiting that could put distance between her and others. She was not the only one!
When she changed the meaning that setting personal boundaries had for her, she realised that there was nothing wrong with it. Setting boundaries is all about expressing your needs, desires and willingness in an assertive way.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you avoid setting boundaries and live through your expectations, you might feel stuck, overwhelmed and confused when facing the reality tha comes instead of what you had been waiting for.
Remember: Expectations Kill Experiences!
Enjoy and Join the SatisfACTION Newsletter to receive more posts like this one and receive a free anxiety meditation… It’s Free!
Also, this week I give away a free consultation to celebrate my birthday so we can talk about satisfaction, remember you can take this course via Skype from any part of the world!
Love and Satisfaction,