One of the simplest and yet most insidious ways we derail ourselves, and often our relationships, is the creation and maintenance of unexpressed expectations. The anchor of expectation weighs us down heavily, holds us bound to old stories, and prevents us from living in our personal truth. We create expectations of ourselves generated from years of listening to others express how we should be, what we should be doing, and their opinions of our choices. And we pass the weight of our expectations onto others, wanting, hoping for, and expecting different reactions or responses and yet never asking for what we truly desire.
We often shut down our communication, our thoughts, and our desires because we fear the response of others. So we plod quietly along on a path that does not bring us satisfaction or fulfillment. This “shutting down” of what is truly meaningful and necessary for the feeding of our souls begins to silence our own internal voice until all we can hear is the clamor of an external chorus. We surrender our power and lose our will to express ourselves truly and freely. Not only do we then find ourselves in a place of unexpressed desire, but we also can become frustrated and hurt that others are not living up to our unspoken expectations of them. This is the deceptive cycle and heavy weight of expectation—the repression of our personal truth.
In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Don’t take anything personally” and “Don’t make assumptions.” He believes that these two agreements can completely transform our lives by supporting us to release our fear of judgment, to have the courage to ask questions, and to express what we really desire. Living in this way, we can unhook from the anchor of expectation that holds us bound to our old stories and counterfeit reactions. We can begin to write new stories, find genuine ways of expressing ourselves, and navigate our lives in accordance with the current of our authentic soul.
- Think. Reflect on a recent event where expectation (either an expectation of yourself or an expectation of another) caused you emotional turmoil.
- Ask. Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions: A) Did you respond a certain way because you thought it was the correct response? B) Did you react from a place of wanting to be perfect or criticizing yourself for the feelings you were experiencing? C) Did you make a choice or decision based on someone else’s opinion? D) Did you ask questions, or express your desire clearly—or was there something you kept to yourself or were afraid to express? E) What role did a past story or fear of judgment play in the event?
- Write. Consider a new version of this event, a version where you truly listened to your own inner voice, where you acted from your heart rather than from past self-imposed expectation. Write a version of the story where you asked questions and spoke freely and honestly. How is this story different? Now ask yourself, where can you unhook from expectation in your life right now?