Expectations Become Future Resentments
Expectations are a funny thing! Isn’t it often the case that things happen that you ’don’t necessarily expect’ to happen? And don’t things happen that you ‘do expect to happen’, that is that you ‘want’ to happen! Is it as simple as thinking about something that causes that thing or event to happen? Can we just ‘will’ something to happen? Or is there some other mechanism underlying this conundrum?
When I press the switch for the light, I expect the light to come on. When I turn on the computer, I expect it to start. When I open the tap, I expect water to come out of the tap. These are realistic expectations. Can you see the common denominator? I first have to take the action and then there is a result. I first have to plant the seed, before I am able to reap some fruit! Nothing just happens without my engaging in some action, even if that is only at the level of thought, because a thought is also an action of the mind.
I first have to plant the seed,
before I am able to reap some fruit!
Where things are technical and automated it’s easy to understand that turning on a switch will give me the desired result. We mostly get into trouble when we have ‘unrealistic’ expectations; where human psychology is at work, we cannot expect the same results all the time. You may ask someone to turn on the switch, but it’s totally up to them whether they will do it or not. It depends: on their mood, their will, their capacity, their health, their desire, their inspiration, their degree of engagement and their interest. Therefore, to expect the same response from everyone is just plain foolish.
Also note, why is it that we don’t get so upset if the switch does not go on due to some technical hiccup? But we do get angry when the person decides they will not do what we asked of them? What gives us this sense of false power? Why do we get upset? This is the time that we need to take an ego check. We cannot force people to do anything. We should not think they, like robots, can be controlled according to our own will. Look even our own mind does not obey our orders, so why should anyone else’s mind be different and be under my control!! Is this thinking not a little crazy?
The other mistake we make is expecting those subtle hidden ‘deals’ in our relationships to pay dividends. Where the wife expects the husband to occasionally get her some flowers and chocolates. Notice how we throw in the word ‘occasionally’ to pretend we are slightly lowering our expectations! Perhaps the parent expects the child to start helping with house chores once they are older. Or simple deals such as ‘I love you’, and so you have to love me as long as I love you! I am helping you and so you have to help me when I need help… I sent you a birthday card and so I expect you to remember my birthday too! Is this a true exchange of love, or simply part of an accounting system that we are playing out?
Well these are perfect cases of ‘expectations that are simply going to become ‘future resentments’? We set up the perfect scenario in our mind of how we believe things should turn out, how our day will go, about how things should be, how people should behave, and then when it doesn’t work out as planned, we feel resentment and upset. We blame others or the situation for not being right. But how much do we question our own mind and our own expectations in the first place?
Most of the time, we expect things to happen just like that! This is called wishful thinking. We expect people to understand us, when perhaps we are not speaking their language, literally or symbolically. We expect, people will do certain things without us telling them to do so, we are great assumers. Maybe we expect them to be clairvoyant or have super powers like telepathy!! How much do we check ourselves? Perhaps we need to see just how clearly we are communicating, but at the same time be easy on ourselves and others with those expectations.
Not everyone will live according to our standards, whether that is with manners, accurate time keeping, clear communication or whatever. Each one will have their own standards, it is true that we can expect things to be a certain way, but not everyone will adhere to a social ‘norm’. Indeed, perhaps in the past we could count on that adherence a little more, but today this seems to be less and less the case. As such the more we are attached to the idea that ‘my way’ is right and expect everyone to fall in line with ‘my standards’ then the greater the dis-appointments we will face. Why? Because everyone is doing it ‘my way’ too.
This is where spirituality really helps. Spirituality teaches us that each soul has their own part on this world stage, and they are making their own choices within the drama. We cannot control anyone or anything, we can only inspire and lead by example in our own life. When we understand this, then we come to realize that when we have these expectations we are totally setting ourselves up for sorrow and dis-appointment.
It’s Time… that we freed ourselves from ‘unrealistic’ expectations, because expectations always and always, lead to dis-appointment.