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Feeling unsatisfied? Creating expectations only borrows trouble

Feeling unsatisfied? Creating expectations only borrows trouble

By Jamie Shane contact

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Isn’t it funny how we fill up our lives with expectations and then wander around wondering why we feel so unsatisfied?

The creation of expectation is the ultimate form of self-sabotage, and it builds a strange stage for unhappiness. Unaware, this common, deeply ingrained behavior allows us to court disappointment as if it were the perfect lover instead of the perfect disaster. (Which often goes hand in hand anyway, as perfect is naught but a frightful illusion on the best of days.) Creating expectation is a badly entrenched thought pattern, a gift from a culture that is perpetually looking ahead to better times regardless of how good the current times are.

Some folks would call this good, old fashioned hope. There’s no harm in hope, right? Of course not. But hope is not expectation. The difference between hope and expectation: hope is open, expectation is closed.

Hope is a verse of “Que Sera, Sera.” Expectation is a history lecture — no music at all and little room for interpretation. Hope is liberating and trusting. Expectation is the complete opposite.

Expectation comes into play when we try to bank on future experiences. We all know change is inevitable, and most of us will try anything we can to manage that change in a way that makes us feel secure. Expectation creates this illusion for us, allowing us to feel as if change is less unpredictable than it is.

But, no matter how hard we expect, things will invariably be different tomorrow, next week, next year.

Milestones of life will be met. Challenges will arise. Something, somewhere will go screwy. Our human flaw lies in trying to control what these changes will bring, how we will feel about them and what life will be like once the inevitable change has manifested. What a dangerous habit and a frightfully common one.

This inclination toward expectation is usually reinforced by the opinions of those around us. People who have “been in your shoes” are desperate to tell you how it is going to work out. As if it’s not bad enough to borrow an experience from your own future, you have to borrow it from everybody else’s past as well.

People love to tell you what to expect as it validates their own understanding. We are all guilty of this. Whatever the situation, whatever you are dealing with, somebody, somewhere will attach an expectation to it. This is how it is supposed to be, they imply.

They are only trying to help when, in essence, they are spoon feeding you a portion of future disappointment. This is how the habit of expectation perpetuates.

Funny how you never notice the bitter taste until after it has been digested.

There is no such thing as how it is “supposed” to be. The future is written in smoke, not stone. And every puff of smoke is beautifully shapeless and fiercely unique. As frightening as it may be, you must allow this to be true. Let go of your expectations and stop trying to force the moment into your (or others’) pre-determined molds.

Experience life as it unfolds without these self-made chains of anticipation. In this manner you can never be disappointed because what you thought would happen didn’t. I can’t promise that you won’t be disappointed by what emerges, but at least you won’t have disappointed yourself.

As my grandma always said: It’s not worth the headache to rob Peter to pay Paul. Or, more succinctly, don’t borrow trouble. The practice of expectation is just that — looking too far ahead and gambling on possibility with your happiness as the wager.

Nobody knows what tomorrow might bring. And why would you want to?
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Feeling unsatisfied? Creating expectations only borrows trouble