On a regular basis, I can hear my mentor, Kristen's voice in my head, "No judgments. No expectations." The sentiment has stuck with me through many things because my nonni (grandmother) used to say something very similar to me while I was growing up. These two powerful women have ingrained this concept into my head and I believe my life is where it's at now because I have embodied the idea as much as possible.
How to succeed: release any and all expectations.
I said this to someone recently (in my college Math class, of all places) and another woman in the class turned around to say, "If I could have learned that 10 years ago, it would have saved me so much heartbreak."
And it kind of broke my heart to hear her say that...
This woman laments the idea that she expected a certain result from something or someone, and then she did not receive it. She said it with so much conviction and emotion on her face that I wanted to stop everything to talk to her, but in school, there is no time to do that. Before I knew it, the lesson continued, and after class she snuck away too fast for me to talk to her...
This lesson of leaving behind expectations can be challenging because we are taught to grip on tightly to the outcome of everything.
The test grade, the degree, the raise, the praise or behavior from a boss, friend, partner, or even the expectation of how you want your birth to unfold... But if I have learned anything in life, it's that life is only full of disappointment if you become attached to that A in the class, the degree with accolades, or the $2.00 raise... Because those outcomes are never guaranteed.
Nothing is ever guaranteed. No matter how often we see or hear the word, there is nothing in life that is 100% going to happen. Some people may think this is a pessimistic way to look at life, but I believe differently. This sense of the unknown is exciting to me and reminds me to be consistent if I want a consistent response from my work. Once I achieve a certain outcome, I can continue to follow a similar path to get something similar, or a more-refined response.
What does this mean exactly? You just said that when you do something you get something, isn't that an expectation?
Not necessarily. Here is how I see it:
Yes, I have a plan for what I want to do, who I want to impact, or how much of presence I want in a certain space. But, I do not expect to be received in any one way. I do not expect to get any one thing or another out of my hard work.
That is where you let go of the expectation, you detach from the outcomes, loosen your grip on a specific plan, and instead focus on the work at hand. This can be applied to many things in life: your business, your practice, your relationships, your birth etc. The energy you save when you stop holding onto expectations is better used for the task at hand. You remain more focused on what is going on in the present, you can better attend to what you are doing as you are doing it.
When we stop expecting a specific outcome then we can stop ourselves from being disappointed because we "didn't get our way." Instead, we are elated with the outcome and pleasantly surprised. Or, we are right back where we started and better off because we did not look forward to any one result.
When you think of your day, plan to do things, not to finish things. This lessens the chance you will get attached to finishing a project within a rigid timeframe. I feel this expectation of finishing something is one which stifles much of my creative and academic progress. For example, when I plan a day to do homework I say to myself, "I am going to do homework tomorrow." What I don't say to myself is, "I am going to finish homework tomorrow." The energy behind these two different statements helps me release myself from the expectation of finishing the task, and oftentimes I am surprised when I end up finishing the thing even though I did not necessarily plan to.
Another example which is related to birth involves a "birth plan." This birth plan is made while pregnant as a way to increase the likelihood of your birth going the way you want it to. Yet, there are always unexpected things which can occur to change the plan or the outcome. Yes, you are going to focus on your baby and yes, you can have desires for certain aspects of your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. But those desires must not be tightly gripped onto, there must be some room for flexibility, because there are so many different ways to achieve what you want; which in this case, is a healthy you and a healthy baby.
Releasing expectations is not an easy concept that can be learned overnight.
You might think to yourself, "Well how does anything get done if you don't plan to finish or accomplish things?" That is why this idea must go hand in hand with other life lessons. There is a balance to be achieved between releasing expectations and releasing the desire to complete projects. The introspection required for releasing expectations also helps you to understand why it is you are doing the work you are doing.
To get onto this balanced track of letting go of expectations, I had to experiment with a few other ways to loosen my grip on certain outcomes. At first, I thought to have realistic expectations, but that rarely worked because what exactly is "realistic?" My definition of realistic could be vastly different from anyone else's definition and because of this, I was left feeling disappointed again.
Then I thought, expect the worst & hope for the best... But that only kept me in the energy of expecting the worst so much so that when the best happened, I couldn't fully celebrate it to bring more good into my life. This method left me feeling disappointed almost all the time. Anytime I would make a plan, I would weigh the outcomes to decide what I wanted least, not what I wanted to most. This had me preparing myself for the worst possible response and that led to an immense amount of stress.
Now, although I understand not to be attached to outcomes, I am not perfect at this either. There are several moments I am disappointed that something did not turn out the way I wanted it to. But each time it happens, I now have the ability to see where I went astray. "I did not follow my own advice and now I'm feeling bad about it." That is where the change happens. Being able to identify where we did not follow our own advice and then changing our approach on the next obstacle.
Our bodies and minds are intelligent on their own. These are lessons you already know within you
Of course, everyone is different. I can talk about ways I respond to life challenges all I want because I know my body and my mind. That said, I also have a unique understanding of both myself and other people. The wise woman within me knows that everyone has a wise soul within them, all they have to do is access it.
Above it all, the thing I ask that you please get from this:
Try to separate yourself from expectations.
Start with one day, go easy on yourself but challenge yourself to remove the thought of, "This can go one of two ways." When you think of your day, plan to do things, not to finish things.
And live in the moment. Be in the now.
Much Love & Light,