Expectations…Do They Help or Hurt You?

We all have expectations. In my experience I have found expectations to be happiness killers. The times in my life where I just followed my heart, doing what I was good at, everything turned out great. It was only when I started having grand expectations of myself with what I wanted that life started throwing me a curve ball. Expectations can really hurt us, because we can’t predict an outcome. All we can do is do our best, living in the now and staying present.

What is it that we expect from ourselves, and others?  Expecting too much sets us up for disappointment.  So many relationships fail because of expectations we put on the other person and ourselves. When we learn to accept and be grateful for what we have and who we are, we let go of our expectations. Living in the now let’s us be more aware of the present moment, experiencing the event.

Haven’t you gone to a movie that everyone has raved about, only to find you were disappointed? You actually hated it and were so frustrated and let down because of the high expectations you had. On the flip side, my parents took me to see The Book of Mormon, a new Broadway musical, for my birthday this year. It’s funny because I had heard such mixed reviews of the show and I didn’t even want to see it. At least a dozen people told me it was raunchy and not so great, so I had low expectations. This really proves my theory. I realized that I needed to let go of my expectations (high or low). Once I did, I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the show. It was funny, definitely a little raunchy and four-letter words were in every other line. But it had a brilliant message: we all need to reach out, help others and make them feel good regardless of race, religion or culture.

Just yesterday my friend Lainey told me how happy she was that she took my advice, seeking some therapeutic counseling.  She said: “You know what Betsy? I always had these expectations of my relationship with my mom. I was blaming her for many things, but they weren’t all her fault. I was at fault as well and I had to learn to accept her as she is. By doing this, we have created a great, new relationship. I have no expectations; I just have a mom that I love.  So thank you for pushing me to see Kathleen. She has helped me salvage this relationship as well as a many others.”

Don’t you think it would be better to just live your life, experiencing it as it happens? By taking this action, you really don’t have expectations; you’re just experiencing something as it unfolds.

I have started living my life in the NOW. I must tell you that when I started letting go of all these high expectations I put on myself, everything became lighter for me. I even received a phone call from an old friend saying: “Wow. I don’t know what you are doing right now, but you seem very grounded and peaceful.” He is right. I am! It was all because of letting go of expectations.

Live for today! YES, you should still set goals for yourself. Those are healthy. It’s the expectations that aren’t. Let them go to see if you feel better, lighter and more peaceful, and you’ll find out if these expectations help or hurt you. The best part? I bet you’ll feel freer having let go of your expectations. See what happens when you try!

Article written by: Betsy Karp

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