Expectations are what we expect or hope to happen during a particular event or time. We all have them. You go to a party and hope that you will meet new people and have a good time. You go on a first date and hope he will be a nice guy, you will have engaging conversation and spend an enjoyable evening together. You make plans to go out with a friend and hope you will have a fun girl’s night.
BUT as I have learned (as I am sure you have too) that many times our expecations do not match what actually happens. You go the party, but no one talks to you and you leave early feeling awkward and alone. You go on the date, but he talks about himself all night, you’re not feeling it and you just want to go home. You get dressed up and are all ready to go out, but then last minute your friend cancels and you are left to another Friday night alone….just you and good old Netflix.
These are just some examples of how we build up expectations in our mind but then are let down when the actual experience does not match up. And this happens all the time, in all areas of our life. We can face unmet expectations with our careers, relationships, children, and the dreams we have for our life. When expectations are left unmet we are left feeling frustrated, confused, hurt, disappointed and let down….yet again. I have personally felt this many times. But one time it hit me hard and I was challenged to see things differently. And it all happend because of a speed dating event (yes, for real).
It was my life coach at the time who helped me process the frustration and disappointment of my unmet expectations after a speed dating event didn’t go as I hoped. She helped me see that my expectations were to blame for my negative experience and feelings, not actually the event itself. At first I didn’t want to hear it! I wanted her to validate me and agree that it was a total waste of time, energy, money, and effort. But she was right. I was focused on the OUTCOME I wanted (which of course was to meet a cute guy I liked there). But the problem with this is that I can’t control other people and I can’t control outcomes. I can’t control who comes up to talk to me at a party, or if my date is totally self-centered, or if my friend cancels, or if I meet a cute guy I click with at a speed dating event. While I can’t control any of that; there is something I can control. I can control what I do during the experience. And that is what I need to focus on instead of the outcome.
Now I try look things differently. Instead of having specific expectations for an experience or situation; I instead focus on what I will do, what I can control. For example if I were to attend anther speed dating event (that’s a big IF) I would not focus on the outcome (meeting someone I click with) but instead focus on what I can control (introducing myself to and getting to know new people, being friendly, being brave by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, and viewing it as a exciting new experience that I can enjoy and learn from). This way no matter what the outcome, the experience can still be positive, beneficial and a success as long as I’ve done what I set out to do.
Letting go of expectations isn’t just for speed dating-it’s for everything in life! Letting go of expectations and instead focusing on what I can control is an extremely freeing outlook that brings more peace, contentment and happiness into my life. And interestingly, I’ve heard from my married friends that letting go of expectations is something they work on for a healthy and happy marriage too. So it is something that will serve me now and in my future as well. I hope you will join me and give letting go of expectations a try too.
In what area of life can you practice letting go of expectations?
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