Being quick to judge people or opportunities based on your expectations may be costing you more than you know.
Someone once told me, “Expectations are the seeds of sorry.”
I guess you could say that in the past I have interpreted expectations more as placing my hopes and beliefs in possibilities. Ah, yes, now that sounds much better, doesn’t it? In my mind’s eye I have this innate ability (notice I did not say gift) to envision how “it” will be, how “it” should be. Unfortunately, things always seem to go way better in my head than what actually transpires in my reality. Or, could it simply be my unrealistic expectations of others that continue to perpetuate, and ultimately plague my ongoing state of disappointment, while stealing my serenity?
As it turns out, this question is now rhetorical in nature, since I have recently stumbled upon the answer. In my unknown quest for the truth in maneuvering through these challenging transitions of life, including all of its people, places, and things, I had what I suppose you would call an epiphany. I began to “see the light.”
Expectations are not only the seeds of sorrow, they are in fact, unrealistic and, dare I say laughable? At this rate if I keep looking for something that does not in fact exist, I will have exhausted all options of happily co-existing with humanity.
The insight I had during this epiphany transpired after one phone call, to a person I was very excited at the prospect of collaborating with. She made two comments that immediately sent what I refer to as “my antenna” up. I found myself no longer excited about this prospect and, oh, here it comes again, the pangs of disappointment, feeling the “let down.”
I had expected a partnership that would be beneficial, on both a personal and professional level. But unfortunately, yet another person had not “hit the mark.” Which meant, of course for me, no longer pursuing this relationship. “Game over!”
My inner dialogue sounded a bit like this: “Wow, what a judgmental person! She knows him? I could never work with someone that has a relationship with him.”
I sat there for a moment, head in hands. When suddenly, and very strangely, I felt my despair begin to lose its footing, nervously balancing, almost teetering, on the edge of … What’s this? Could it be? Yes, my very best friend, AWARENESS!
Which was singing to the tune of “Who exactly is judging whom here Melissa?” The next line was one crucial and eye opening question. “How many times in the past have you had what you thought was an expectation, but was really a disguised JUDGMENT, and used it to write someone or something, like a good friend or amazing opportunity out of your life?”
How do we begin to dig out these invasive “seeds of expectations?”
Seize the Moment
Life is full of opportunities — remain open to them. If you have an “antenna” such as mine, don’t completely disregard it, but use it as a possible change agent. Be the change you want to see in the world! This does not mean we are right, or that we need to teach this lost person a thing or two. Teaching and learning really is a two way street so ask yourself, “What can I learn from this person?” The greatest lessons learned in life are quite often what not to do.
Find the Balance
Balance it all out by taking the time to first get to know someone. I’m not saying that we should stick around in an unhealthy personal and/or professional relationship. I am saying that we are all human, not perfect by any means. Discernment is good practice, and we each have to find other likeminded folks. They just won’t be perfect!
Just Let GO!
Let go of not only your expectations of people, but also places and things! Since I have had this awareness, each time I notice I am feeling frustrated, for example, someone cutting me off in traffic, an ice storm when I had plans to go shopping, or people not being who I expect them to be, frustration has turned into my “alarm system,” in order to check-in with myself. This offers a gentle reminder that I am getting caught in the trap of wanting things to be as I expect them to be.
My eldest sister always says, “Melissa, leave your J’s at the door.” My J’s are judgments of course! When we expect other people to be a certain way, and they have similar expectations of us, we are not only mirroring judgmental behavior, we are perpetuating it. If we aspire to live an authentic, and peaceful life, we must first sit in our truth, own it, and just stop expecting so much!
Photo: Flickr/Mike Licht