Great Expectations…

“All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment; but all spiritual pleasures more in fruition than expectation.” ~Francois Feneion

I hurt for her. I really did.

She carried a basket in her arms, one that was made up just for her, apparently with things in it that the giver felt reflected who she was and what she loved.

“Betsy. I’m so sad.” I listened and tried to understand her pain. It wasn’t that she was disappointed with the stuff. She was disappointed with what she perceived as thoughtlessness on behalf of the giver. The challenge each week had been for the new giver to observe a person and reflect on who they were – what their interests, talents, skills and uniqueness was –  and give representations of what was learned in the basket.

Her sadness was justified by her expectation that the challenge would be taken seriously and that she’d feel a certain something when she uncovered the trinkets that she hoped would have been lovingly and thoughtfully chosen just for her.

But the giver, for whatever reason, hadn’t met my friend’s expectations. And her disappointment was profound.

“What if you look at it another way?” I suggested. “What if your expectations show you how much you love and value yourself?”

This conversation happened 25 years ago, but it’s as fresh as if it had happened yesterday.

I know we want to guard our hearts from suffering, so we either lower our expectations, or complain about our disappointments as if there really was a way to live a fulfilling life without either one – expectations, and disappointments.

Something has changed inside of me, and I don’t know when it happened. Perhaps it has been creeping up on me my whole life, one experience at a time.

It started years ago when I learned about my circle of influence and the things that only I had control over. When I realized that I was here on earth with billions of other people and the only one I could “control” was me, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the sadness and turmoil in my life and see the common thread of dashed expectations – expectations I’d put on other people and circumstances to behave and turn out a certain way:

  • I expected people to be kind and patient
  • I expected people to keep their word
  • I expected my close friends not to gossip or hurt me
  • I expected everyone to love me
  • I expected everyone to work as hard as I did

And then it dawned on me; what if my expectations were merely a reflection of what I value, and I was being given opportunities to see that? If that was true, then there would be no room for disappointment. Ever. I’d be free from thoughts that somehow I needed to “fix” something or someone, and instead I’d feel like I was understanding my heart better.

Does that make sense to you? Words are so limiting. Aren’t they?

So, what IS it that I’m trying to say?

Here goes.

If life is a series of moments, and I want to live fully and feel joy, then I have to see the gift in every moment I live. And if I feel sorrow, disappointment, or anger, I can see those reactions as a reflection of my heart and its desire for perfection…not someone else’s, but mine.

It’s as if the dashed expectation is a witness of perfection that I yearn for and now have an understanding of – for that thing, not for everything.

And then I feel peace and compassion. I see people and their flaws, but actually enjoy them more! Laughter comes easily because it doesn’t depend on what’s going on in the moment, but in my feeling close to “heaven” all the time.

My mind stops fixing the disappointment, looking for reasons and trying to figure out how to not make “that” happen again.

My heart stays open.

I don’t feel hatred or judgement, or the need to complain.

It’s the same for people’s expectations for us. If we live our lives trying to please others we will always be disappointed with life and will never feel good enough. But if, when someone expects something of / from us, we can see our values and desires uncovered by our reactions to their expectations of us.

It’s very interesting to watch that unfold!

So, what if today, we expected to feel a depth of joy for life in every situation, regardless of how we’re treated, what we have, or what we’re asked to do? And what if we knew that nobody else’s expectations for us should sway us from being who we are and how to feel our own personal joy?

What if we expected that kind of growth inside of ourselves and lived each moment accordingly, without complaint or confusion?

In other words:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”~Mahatma Gandhi

(And then you won’t be able to stop yourself from having some fun!)

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11 thoughts on “Great Expectations…

  1. But words are so empowering, too!

    There’s words behind every experience in life, both negative and positive – they power both.

    Life is an attitude, and depending on that attitude, you can see clearly, or be blind – and each determines the quality of the human experience.

    When you ‘see’ you’re in a position to give life to others, or feed their spirit. You’re become a source of other people’s joy and happiness, and therefore fulfil your own. It’s a good place to be in life when you brighten the lives of others. It’s truly freeing. It’s empowering. It’s fueled by the very best attitude in existence – to bring joy and happiness to others.

    When you can’t see, you tend to become a life-sucker, or a suckee. You don’t really have time, ears, or heart for others, because the pressures of life and/or living for other people’s expectations has vexed you. One forces their ideas of your perfect life on you – – the other exists simply to meet someone’s expectation for their life. It’s a very limiting and limited existence. It locks down the very best people have to give right in the center of their being, where they can only hear the longing for who they could be, and always dreamed to become one day…

    I see very little choice involved here. If there was, there would be a clear winner based on a good decision… Problem is, the majority do not live life on their own terms. They live life based on the box people and society put them in, and there are few that ever escape.

    People rarely change once their spirit has been tamed, or crushed. They rarely escape the box once they’re in there.

    All would take is different decisions, which produces different actions, that causes a different results. The mind is truly a fragile thing. If you’re not taking complete responsibility for programing it, someone else is – from your government and big business, to the people and attitudes you you spend the most time with everyday.

    Only give access to your mindspace to people who inspire the best in you, and celebrate your life; the rest are not worthy, nor will they be beneficial to your life.

    As you stated, Betsy, words are powerful, and hopefully there is somebody out there who reads these words today, and it inspires them to break out of the box they’re in to fully live the gift of life that’s been given to them!

    Happy Sunday, miss! : )

    • Wow, Mark! Great and powerful comment!
      I do believe, however, that one gets a taste in their being for freedom, that will work on them. They’ll either go mad because they just can’t face the grief that comes with change, or they’ll be inspired by the feelings that even the smallest steps taken outside their box gives them.
      There’s no way to judge why other people feel or do the way that they do, I know. And I know that for some, the helpless / hopelessness is profound.
      But I’ve been in very dark places, too, and still manage to keep fighting my way to light. My achievements might seem minuscule to some, but they’re magnificent to me!
      So, hurrah for us all! We are free to choose. And free to change direction whenever we want. I agree that most of us won’t because the fear of “what if?” is paralyzing! I know that one very well!
      The most important thing I’ve learned lately is that the joy that comes from being true to myself outweighs the fear of disappointing people. I’ve started asking myself if I’ve disappointed MYSELF?! Never mind anyone else!
      And for a very long time now, the answer is “no. I haven’t!” I’ve made mistakes and have failed big time with major stuff..but I’m moving forward. And I’m happy!! (and I know how to drive my little Beetle really well now!)

  2. I have just been thinking about all of this. How my expectations – those I put on others and those put on myself because I am trying to do what other people think is right – cause me a lot of pain. I need to learn who I really am and accept it. I need to really learn about those I love and accept them. This I will admit is difficult for me. Somehow I have to do it though. Thank you for another beautiful post.

    • I think sometimes we think we really think we see things clearly. But there’s so much more to know about how everything works together for our good, and we actually get in the way of most of it by ignoring and / or denying the one thing we’ve been given to guide us – our gut.aka the Spirit. Instead we get lost and even unhappy. And you are perfect! Now to have some fun with that!

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