Over the past few months, the weight of expectations has been a frequent topic in conversations with family and friends, and in my own thinking, journaling, and choices. Each of us has a very personal relationship with the many expectations in our lives — our expectations of ourselves, what we expect from others and, of course, what we believe other people expect from us.
Can expectations be positive? Of course! My parents had expectations that my brother and I would be kind and compassionate, that we would study while we were in school, and that we would become “responsible adults.” I am certain that there can be many positive effects of expectations throughout our lives. What I have been considering recently, though, are the other types of expectations, those that become the SHOULDs that weigh us down. Those expectations can add stress and pressure to our lives, and often result in self-judgment and self-criticism. They distract us from our experience of inner-peace and joy.
Expectations come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be REAL expectations that have been communicated to us or by us, or they can be IMAGINED expectations that are born in our assumptions about what others want from us. Either way, expectations can become invisible burdens that we carry with us every day. They weigh us down, but we carry them only because we decided to carry them. We are the only ones who can create the pressure of expectations in our lives. It is true that other people can expect things from us, but what they expect from us can only create pressure if we allow it. The choice is always ours.
I have decided to surrender my habit of creating unrealistic expectations for myself, and my habit of accepting the weight of other people’s expectations. I have decided that being free of weighty expectations is a state of mind, and a state of heart. I invite you to release the pressure of expectations, real or imagined, and to let go of what others think of you, want from you, and expect of you.
Let’s explore feeling free! Let’s explore moving through our days listening to our heart instead of listening to that voice – ours or someone else’s – telling us what we should do. Let’s explore a life where there is no SHOULD. Let’s imagine ourselves as beautiful, brightly-colored balloons, floating without resistance, gratefully choosing to soar above the tethers that would weigh us down.
I also posted this piece in preparation for guest-hosting Kumud Ajmani’s inspiring weekly #SpiritChat conversation… https://spiritchat140.wordpress.com/2023/03/
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