Expectation is the root of all heartache.
Hi Epic friends!
An exceptionally wise man once said: Expectation is the root of all heartache. He wrote some plays and sonnets and stuff… I think he was British… ;0) William Shakespeare was arguably the most insightful commentator on human behavior. Albeit a bit dramatic at times, he pretty much had human nature pegged. What is it about expectations that ruin so many potentially wonderful life experiences?
I tend to get super excited about new opportunities, friendships, activities, adventures, food, everything really, and set expectations for myself and/or others that usually end up being unrealistic. They can be unrealistic because of the situation, the other people involved, or me. Whatever the cause, the reality of the outcome not living up to my expectations is always disappointing and sometimes, thank you Will, heartbreaking.
Why does this happen?!? There’s no way in hell I can stop myself from being excited about new experiences! Enthusiasm is in my DNA. I have been doing a lot of pondering over this question in the last week and I have come up with some ideas.
When we set expectations, we create pressure surrounding a situation and its intended outcome and this leads to anxiety and stress. It’s usually a catch 22 where if the situation feels stressful due to expectations, it takes the fun and enjoyment out of it and the excitement disappears along with it. No bueno.
This doesn’t mean that we should go through life just floating around not caring or getting excited about life. That would be horribly boring and disingenuous! The key is to be excited about the experience itself and not what it creates or can do for you. One example is relying on a situation or person to make you happy. That’s an expectation. Coming into a situation wanting it to enrich yourlife, whatever the outcome, is healthy and will lead to fulfilling experiences.
Being tied to an outcome as the only one that is acceptable causes any other result to be perceived as negative which is where the heartache comes in. Being open to any outcome and being excited about the situation itself instead of the result is the secret to happiness.
This change in mindset also works for negative expectations. When you believe the outcome of an experience or situation will be negative and it turns out to be positive, you have wasted precious energy worrying about, stressing over, or being preemptively disappointed about the potential negative outcome. This makes no sense whatsoever and robs us of joy. What has worrying ever done but give us wrinkles? Nothing!
The mantra I have embraced this week has been: surrender. Whenever I feel that ball of stress and anxiety starting to form in my stomach, I take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth as I say, out loud, “SURRENDER”. It has been working from small expectations such as the feel of surfing in booties as opposed to bare feet (47 degree air temp this morning, brrrr), to huge expectations surrounding relationships. Give it a try! I have been pleasantly surprised by how much more relaxed and at peace I feel already.
Until next time, stay EPIC!