What is the most common cause of anxiety, stress, heartache, dissatisfaction, resentment, relationship issues, and nearly every other threat to our happiness and well-being?
While many things may come to mind, what seems to cause the most pain are actually just distortions that we can let go of, if we choose to - imposed expectations.
Expectations aren’t bad in and of themselves. Some are healthy - those for safety and protection, like a parent being expected to protect their child; those that are mutually agreed upon, like a contract to receive a service - however many of our everyday expectations are imposed on others and based in our desire to have what we want in spite of what another person may want or even be capable of delivering. Imposed expectations hold the key traits of being assumed, unrealistic, developed in a vacuum, and forced onto our reality or the reality of others. But we have the power to let go of these imposed expectations and establish healthier ones.
...many of our everyday expectations are imposed on others and based in our desire to have what we want in spite of what another person may want or even be capable of delivering.
When it comes to expectations in relationships, one of the pieces often missing is proper communication of wants and needs. It’s okay to set expectations in relationships, but only if mutual agreement is established through communicating your true desires and listening to your loved one’s true desires. Say them out loud and get verbal agreement that you’re on the same page. When you take the time to truly hear them, you learn what makes them feel safe, respected, and loved. And when they do the same for you, you’re on the right track to setting healthy, realistic expectations of each other.
When you take the time to truly hear them, you learn what makes them feel safe, respected, and loved.
Imposed expectations can also affect external situations. How many times have you felt let down because something didn’t go your way? Countless times, no doubt. As humans, it is so natural and common for us to get our hopes up about something - a job, a sale, travel plans - only to have it fall through. Releasing these situational expectations requires a different technique. Whereas the key factor for relationships is communication, the key factor here is surrender of control.
Circumstances happen all around us with many variables and factors that we often cannot even see. It’s impossible to control it all, but our minds can trick us into believing we can do just that. We must accept the truth that some situations and events that we participate in are not under our control. We can only control ourselves and how we react to those situations and events. So when you surrender the illusion that you can control all the variables, you also let go of how you expect that event will turn out. A useful technique is to visualize all the different possible outcomes. Imagine how you will feel, react, and what you’ll do next in each outcome. It’s about accepting that the results could go either way and coming to a peace about each possibility.
When you surrender the illusion that you can control all the variables, you also let go of how you expect that event will turn out.
When we communicate our needs and release control, we safeguard ourselves against the pain of being let down. We have to be honest about when we’re being unrealistic or making assumptions and imposing on others. There is freedom in letting go - our lives and relationships will be better for it.
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DeLaVie is about the exploration and pursuit of total wellness. I hope you find some insights here. Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments.
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