Here at Monkeytraps we believe two things about expectations:
1. An expectation is an attempt to control something.
It’s a sort of demand we make on the future.
“It must be like this,” we tell ourselves. “And if it’s not, I won’t be happy.”
Then it’s not. And we’re not.
Which leads to my second thought:
2. Expectations are killers.
They kill all sorts of important living things.
Spontaneity. Spontaneity means freedom — being able to express yourself without fear or constraint. But expectations are both judgmental and constraining. (Listen up, future: I want this to happen, and not that.) Expecting A prevents you from accepting and embracing B, or C, or D. That includes what comes to you from your environment and what comes up inside you, your own feelings and responses. Expectations are emotional handcuffs.
Pleasure. However else you define pleasure, it’s certainly a feeling. And expectations generally undermine our ability to feel. They’re born in our heads, while feelings live in our bodies. They’re future-oriented, where feelings occur only in the now. They’re controlling, where feeling (especially the feeling of pleasure) involves surrendering to an experience. And they’re born out of fear (I really don’t want X to happen). And nothing kills pleasure deader than fear.
Love. Real love, the kind we all crave, depends on safety — knowing you can be yourself and not be punished for it. How can you feel that if you’re worried about meeting someone’s expectations? How can they feel it if they’re worrying about meeting yours?
You may wonder why I’m writing about expectations just now.
Well, Christmas is coming.
‘Tis the season to be expecting.
And expectations are the main reason so many people suffer emotionally at this time of year.
We expect to feel a certain way, and usually don’t.
We buy with one eye on what people expect of us, and the other on what we expect of them.
And we compare where we are this December to where we were last December, and to where we’d expected to be by now.
Let’s be realistic, though. Expectations are difficult to give up. No one who reads this is going to suddenly stop expecting.
But you can take note of what you’re expecting.
And you can distinguish the expectations that are really important from the one are just bad habits.
And you can consider tossing out a few of the less important ones.
See how you feel.
Better, I bet.
Lighter. Freer. More accepting. More loving.
Not a bad way to feel heading into a new year.