You already know that I’m not a big fan of expectations. They’re limiting in a multitude of ways, and are a fertile ground for breeding Stories about what it did or did not mean when the expectations were, or were not, met.
All that said, it’s demeaning to ourselves, to our dreams, when we walk the world with a defeated tone:
“Well. I’d better not expect anything out of this.”
Usually, someone will choose different words–they’ll spin it more like, “I’m staying focused on not getting attached” in a chirpy voice–but the energy they’re carrying is: It’s painful to wish for, to want, to hope for, to desire. It’s so painful and scary that I’m trying to numb out altogether.
That’s not the same thing as releasing expectations.
Releasing Expectations Is Really About…
… presence. releasing the grip. opening to whatever arises. noticing the tendency to judge and categorize. not isolating or constricting in the face of fear, but rather, being open to the fear as one of the possible experiences that will be present.
“I’d better not expect too much” is the sad, monotone statement of defeat.
There’s something about someone who keeps their vision high, though–they radiate. They’re connected to how they want to be of service, what they want to create, and the power of what they have to offer.
What they radiate isn’t coming from expectations–how they’ll perform, what other people will think, the end result.
Their radiance is coming from the pure, utter joy of feeling alive–of being connected to their passion–of being excited that they get the privilege of doing what they know they were meant to do.
It’s not about money or recognition. It’s about being.
Wanting So Much It Hurts
Wanting something to the point of hurting for it is a killjoy. Oprah tells the story of how badly she wanted the part of Sophia in The Color Purple. “I never want to want anything that badly, ever again,” she says–the wanting became so painful that it was an obsession.
Wanting something to the point where it hurts just hurts–and it will keep the money and recognition away.
–And– so will taking on the dull monotone of “I’m not going to expect too much.”
You see, trying to control outcomes through caring too much doesn’t work any better than not caring enough. They’re both defensive mechanisms that hinge on a Story:
“If this goes the way I want it to, I’ll be happy.”
All we need to do is look at the people in the world who radiate when they talk about their work, to know that this isn’t true.
People aren’t happy because things go the way they want them to.
People are happy because they choose to be, and people who radiate are keeping their vision high–they’re choosing that for themselves.
Why Did You…?
Why did you… decide to become a mom?
–or work for yourself?
–or write a book?
–or work at that job?
–or marry that woman or man?
You made all of those choices. Why did you make them? And to what degree were you thinking, “If this turns out the way I want it to, I’ll be happy?” And to what degree were you radiating?
In the first moment you held your child in your arms, were you trying to strategically plan your happiness? Or were you radiating?
When you got the call that the job was yours, were you trying to plot income projections for the next five years? Or were you radiating?
When the moment of inspiration hit that said, “Write that book!” or “Try making a go of it in that new career!” were you steeling yourself against the rejection letters, or were you basking in the excited glow of inspiration?
All the good stuff comes from radiating, and attachment to outcomes and expectations is always the wet blanket.
Keeping expectations low–and vision high–is a powerful combination. Let your vision soar, and see how that takes you farther than strategizing.
The next step will appear. It’s not “If you build it, they will come,”
–it’s “If you radiate it, they will come.”