“Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.” - Author Unknown
I’ve heard it said before and will often share this with my clients, that expectations are premeditated resentments.
One of the greatest causes of discontent in our lives is carrying too many expectations. Expectations of ourselves and expectations of others. When we claim that someone has let us down or disappointed us, often times what we really mean is that they are not living up to our expectations.
When we expect other people to be or do things a certain way and they don’t, we are essentially creating an environment where we are making them, or ourselves, wrong. This will often lead us to try and correct, convince, challenge, or change the other person, which results in carrying around some really toxic energy.
We become justified in our conviction that our way is the right way and blaming and criticizing become acceptable reactions when others don’t do things they way we think they should.
When I talk about expectations as premeditated resentments with clients and encourage exploring the idea that it’s not the person that’s letting them down but their expectations of who that person should be that’s letting them down, I am often met with understandable resistance or cynicism.
Many of us, as a result of consistently being let down, will often swing over to the other end of the continuum, and make claims such as, “this is why I never expect anything from anyone, because they always let me down.” Unfortunately, in this statement, there is still an expectation and an assumption of how people should and will behave.
Letting go of expectations doesn’t mean being defeated. If you are feeling defeated, you are still in a position of seeing things as right or wrong, black or white.
Letting go of expectations means accepting people and situations as they are.
I often times make the comparison to trying to pet a crocodile. When we try to do this and the crocodile bites us, we can’t exactly blame the crocodile. The crocodile was just being a crocodile! We went in expecting the crocodile would be different, perhaps soft and fuzzy like a little bunny, and that expectation resulted in our getting bit.
The concept of letting go of expectations can often times feel really tricky because sometimes people and situations, as they are, cause us hurt and pain. Letting go of expectations does not mean we have to accept relationships or situations when boundaries are being violated, or abuse is occurring. If you feel you are in that type of a relationship, this article is not intended for you.
We all have a choice to make when we feel someone has let us down or wronged us. We can either let go of our expectations, and our subsequent need to be right, and accept this person as they are, or we can decide this expectation is non-negotiable for us and we can walk away.
Trying to change the other person or convince them to see it our way will only lead to further our pain, frustration, and disappointment.
Something to consider when evaluating whether or not to let go of an expectation, especially when we feel hurt or offended:
The people we care about are generally doing the best they can. If they could do better they probably would. If we can find it within ourselves to recognize that instead of assuming the worst, we may feel hurt and offended less often.
With much love and gratitude,
Please take a moment to share any thoughts or reactions you have to these ideas. I welcome your voices and value hearing everyone’s different experiences. And if you liked what you read, or found it useful in any way, please pass it along to your friends, and Facebook, or Twitter followers!