Definition of expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”

Be careful with expectations….they can be very disappointing because in the end, you are dealing with reality. Is an expectation a reality? Nope. But, it’s something that we WANT to be a reality. And when it doesn’t happen, we are disappointed. And who gets hurt? Y O U.

Expectations are like plays we have made up in our minds. The expectation is that I want my Thanksgiving dinner to be a success. I’ll invite my family and my friends and everyone will be happy and get along. This is the play. In reality, my Uncle George drinks too much and always ends up ruining the conversation with his nonsensical ranting and raving because he’s always right. My Aunt Bella is a dreadful gossip and spreads rumors about people like they were warm butter. The children of my ex mother in law bicker constantly about everything. This is reality. Can you change the outcome of a play? Can you change the outcome of reality?

So I have Thanksgiving and all the things that usually happen in reality happen…..my expectation has merely become wishful thinking. Who is disappointed? My day is ruined and I’m terribly unhappy and upset. Who made me that way? Me, of course. I made up the play and I made up all the things that I expected, that I wanted to have happen.

If, on the other hand, I went into Thanksgiving just letting things happen, letting reality take its course, and have no expectations, my day is going to end on a much better note. Yes, the same things are going to happen, but my expectation level is nil. If something extraordinary happens, I’ll be surprised and delighted and I’ll go home with a smile on my happy face.

Moral of the story is: You are in charge. How do you want to feel?

When I was going through my period of changing, this was a biggie for me; it’s where it all started. At that time, I was going through a very difficult chapter of my life. And when you do, you expect your family and friends to gather around you to support and protect you. I had just moved, so my friends were located in another part of the state. As for my family, they had their own challenges and life experiences to contend with so I often felt left out in the cold. Why did I feel left out in the cold? Because I had those expectations of how I thought they would help me through this jungle of emotions I was going through. And when they didn’t, I became disappointed….my play wasn’t turning out as written.

So, we’re right back to HOW I expected situations to be and the reality of how they actually were turning out…..big difference. After lots of reading and soul searching, I had an epiphany: what if I went into a situation with NO expectations? Which meant, I had to change my thinking, rewrite my play. Have you ever gone over to someone’s house for a visit with NO EXPECTATIONS? Let me be the first one to tell you that it’s not easy. First, I had to prep myself and my conscious mind: expect nothing….a difficult assignment. Then while I was around the people who I had decided made me feel uncomfortable, I had to constantly remind myself to expect nothing. At first, it was difficult to have no expectations because we are so used to having them whether we are paying attention to them (on a conscious level) or not. I’ll call it a habit……one that we have whether we like it or not. Good news here: habits can be broken! And, I eventually learned to enter any situation without any preconceived thoughts about how I wanted or expected things to turn out. Allow reality to be what it’s going to be. My play was writing itself.

And you know what? After a period of time, I actually began to feel good about myself…..because I was in control of my life. I was deciding how I was going to feel, not allowing the emotions of the situation or people do it for me.

Do you expect things to happen for you? Does your play always work for you? I’ve learned that in order to change your thinking, it takes ACTION. So instead of ‘expecting’ things to happen ‘for’ me, I make a list of what I want and then go out and get what I want. Sometimes I find out I didn’t want what I wanted…..does that happen to you?

If you live your life without expectations, everything you receive is going to be a surprise. The guarantee of not being disappointed is one of them! I will say, though, that having ‘no expectations’ in all situations is still a challenge….which makes me wonder if we don’t come into this life programmed to ‘have expectations’. Something to ponder.