Buddhism teachings say that you need to let go of expectations to find peace in life.
How is this possible? Without expectations don’t we just stagnate? Wouldn’t we fail to understand what is needed from us?
I have been struggling with expectations over the last week. Expectations I have of myself. Expectations I have of those around me. Expectations that others may have of me.
I have unhealthy expectations of myself and these expectations often find themselves being placed on those around me. I expect me to do more writing than the time I have allows. Is this an excuse? Maybe. But again, maybe not. I know I need to write regularly if I hope to see it become something more, but I need to understand that writing daily and putting something out there is a great start, and of course, every journey begins with a single step.
I take my small successes and turn them into expectations of those around me. How I expect that everyone has time to support the things I am doing and the disappointment I may feel when they, in fact, do not actually have the spare time any more than I do.
Then I get to the expectations that I believe others have of me. That is the key statement here, the ones “I believe others have of me”. I am not actually aware of these expectations, no one has told me that they really expect me to do certain things at certain times. This is in reality tied to the expectations I have of myself. I believe I need to do more beyond the expectations of my own writing, but instead of acknowledging this I play it out in my head as arbitrary expectations that are being placed on me. This is my way of coping.
How do you cope with expectations? Do you find yourself stressed when others are not meeting the expectations you have placed on them? Do you openly tell them you expect these things? How do you think they would feel if you did?
I feel like part of letting go of expectations, or at least not letting them run the show, is to understand where they come from. I know that my expectations come from how scary everything I am trying to accomplish is. The stress of wanting to do a good job and knowing I need support to keep from letting myself back down. As a result, those expectations have gained a life of their own and they lead to a lot of negativity.
This one is super important! I have to remind myself that my support network can’t read minds. If I don’t reach out to them and let them know I need support it is unfair of me to feel like they are not there in the way I expect them to be. Let go of the certainty that they aren’t there and reach out – let them know you are worried or stressed and maybe feeling particularly sensitive and a little extra support would be incredibly helpful for a little while. This does a couple of things; one, it lets them know where you are and what help you need and two, it lets them know if they ever need extra support they can reach out as well and you will understand.
We all feel stress, and fear of the unknown. Trying something new, especially if it is important to you, is scary. Terrifying in a way. Don’t let your expectations run things, instead remind yourself that you have got this!
And remember, reach out.