Expectations of ourselves, of others, and what life should bring us weigh us down like an anchor.
We are hard on ourselves and we often set expectations that we believe we aren’t meeting, fostering guilt and shame. Sometimes we have set expectations that are almost impossible to meet because they are a moving target or can’t be quantified — for instance, to be “successful.”
When we have expectations of others, especially in personal relationships where we think someone should be acting in a different way, we place a burden on them that they resent as no one wants to feel that they are being judged for who they are.
This makes the relationship unhealthy and dysfunctional.
And when we expect that life will bring us certain experiences or rewards and this does not happen, we usually become angry. What we don’t realize is that by saying that our life needs to unfold only in a certain way, we energize that way, and restrict and don’t pay attention to other paths the Universe can bring us — paths which will likely be much better than anything we had imagined. We need to eliminate the word “should” from our vocabulary, as this word restricts possibilities and automatically sets up expectations, judgment, and the accompanying guilt.
But when we have no expectations, everything becomes a gift. When we are not attached to anything — such as a certain outcome or what people think of us — we are free, and we will be fear-free.
This allows us to play the game of life with conscious intent, working in partnership with the Universe to create a joy-filled and abundant life. Most people are attached to something, whether that be money, power, material goods, control, reputation, or even acting like a victim. Of itself, something like wealth is neutral. The attachment is the problem. We can enjoy the things of the world without being attached to them as our god.
We are each so caught up in a certain identity and the static of the world that we forget who we are as divine beings.
Here is a simple, four-step exercise to help you touch on that knowing within you, and begin to see and release your attachments:
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone and close your eyes. If you can be in nature, that is ideal, but you can do this in a walk-in closet. Take a deep breath and exhale anything that is worrying you. Just take a pause and rest for this moment. Know that at this moment, everything is okay and you have no problems
- Ask that you be shown a glimpse of who you really are aside from the identities you attach to yourself in the world such as (businesswoman, father, caregiver, etc.). You don’t have to believe in God, or any kind of higher power, to ask the question. You can just ask without directing it to anything or anyone. It is the setting of your intention that is important.
- Pretend, just for a couple of minutes, that you have awakened from a long dream and you have amnesia. You don’t remember your identities of the world. In fact, you don’t remember who you are at all — your name, your age, what you look like. You have no history.
- Feel that fully. If fear comes up, just stay present with the fear. Don’t run from it or engage it more, just watch it and allow it to pass through you. After the fear subsides, you will likely experience a wonderful feeling of comfort and peace. You may feel that all of your burdens have been lifted from you and that everything is and will be okay. Stay with this as long as it is there. But if your mind starts to spin with multiple thoughts, don’t fight it. You can come back and do this again at any time, even in the middle of a hectic workday. The more you practice this, the more it becomes automatic.
When you process the experience of moving through this simple exercise, you may recognize that your mind gets fearful when it doesn’t understand something and can’t categorize it.
You may notice that in the space you have entered, you touch on a completely different way of thinking and being. What you have always thought you understood is now somewhat muddled or is only one way of seeing things. This is the beginning of tapping into a deep fountain of wisdom that will guide you and always provide the right answers. At the same time, you will feel a surge of peace and joy as you access this part of you.
Our task is to release our expectations and to determine what we are attached to that is not serving us. It doesn’t have to be a hard process unless we resist. The Universe is pushing us individually and collectively to see what we are attached to — so we can choose to release it, and come into a greater understand and actual living of our greater self. This is why we are here at this momentous time on the planet.
**Originally published at the Happiness Series