Letting Go Of Expectations

For a long time missing the metro, not getting a window seat on a plane, ordering the wrong meal at a restaurant, or getting rained out of a hike was a big let down.

Another area of my life where I felt this way was in my relationships.

It seemed that my friendships, romantic partnerships, work relations, and so on were something to complain about, be upset by, or need to figure out.

Much of my time was spent frustrated because I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to go after a higher paying job or why their response to something worth celebrating was streamlined.

And  all this irritation came out passive aggressively and in a way that made it seem like my thoughts, feelings, and desires were better or right. That my opinion mattered more than the person I was with.

No matter the situation, I had expectations.

I expected to catch the metro.

I expected to get a window seat.

I expected a boyfriend to want to make more money.

I expected a friend’s reaction to be more joyful.

I expected everyone to be like me.

I expected everyone to see the world like me.

I expected everyone to want and desire the same as me.

There’s a line in the Gin Blossom song, Hey Jealousy, that I adore. “If you don’t expect too much from me you might not be let down.”

Think about it for a minute. If I wouldn’t have expected any of the above there would be no way I would have been upset by the outcome.

We want to let go of expectation and replace it with allowing.

Allowing events to happen and be as they are.

Allowing people to see the world and act in the way that’s true to them.

Allowing ourselves the freedom to stop asking why this person is like this or why this happened and simply allow it to be as is.

A principle in Buddhist psychology is: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not. Suffering arises from grasping. Release grasping and be free of suffering.

By letting go of expectations we stop our own and others suffering.


How To Let Go of Expectations

Without judgment, name your expectations

  • Of yourself
  • Others
  • Events

Naming our expectations makes it easier to notice when we’re having them.

Pay attention to when you begin to feel your expectations. Sometimes if we start to see that we’re judging others or thinking why, how in the world, type of thoughts we’re likely holding an expectation.

Ask yourself

  • How would I feel without this expectation?
  • What would this relationship feel / look like without this expectation?
  • If I let go of this expectation what could I do instead?

As always, I’d love to know how the above goes for you or if you have more thoughts on the topic.

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