About What You'd Expect

This post originally appeared on November 3, 2015. 

Expectations have been big for me lately. You, too? It's that time of year, one holiday after another, parties, gifts, meals, travel - they all come with big expectations attached. So big, in fact, that often the event (or, ahem, the people) involved can't possibly live up to them and we find ourselves flailing in disappointment stew. 

It doesn't seem to matter who, or how enlightened, you are, this season that we're stepping in to can seriously get us down. So, how can we use our spirit powers to keep things from boiling over? I have an idea.

Instead of feeding the expectations machine, or ignoring it altogether, simply say hello to it. I'm big on anthropomorphizing the feels, so think of your expectation-maker as someone you can talk to, get to know, and ultimately, get to chill the f*ck out.

Recently, I have been paying close attention to how things go when I acknowledge my expectations. I've been slowly talking my expectation-maker off the ledge, reminding her that people can be relied upon to give the best they can with what they have in any particular moment. It may be more or less than what she thinks they can give, but it is what it is.

I can't dictate how other people show up. I can make plans, but I can't guarantee that they'll go off without a hitch. There are always unknowns, shifts in energy that affect how things play out. What I can do, what makes my life a little less frantic-feeling and more enjoyable, is manage what I expect.

I'm not advocating lowering the bar to the ground and letting people treat you badly. I'm suggesting getting in touch with your expectation-maker and reminding her that she can be a little over-the-top. A little unreasonable. Flat out batshit crazy. Let her know you appreciate her pictures of what could be. Thank her for her impeccable taste and high standards. 

And then tell her to take it down a notch. Remind her that you're dealing with real, unpredictable, imperfect human beings who are all doing the best they can. Remind her that they can surprise you with the depth of their awesomeness. Life isn't a carefully curated album of Facebook perfection, it's often a hot mess. In that messiness, there is beauty. There is connection. There is validation. There is a need for boundaries. There is disappointment. There is what we think we're going to get, and there's what we actually get. The more aligned we are with our own truth, the better we are able to allow people to be in theirs. 

That's where the action is - the magic happens when we show up, all in, expecting that we will give the best we can with what we have, and letting the people around us do the same. Hang out with your expectation-maker, see what she's really thinking, and help her chill out.

And notice what happens.


Barbara Holbrook4 Comments