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Great Expectations

What you want from another, give to yourself.

I was swimming in my local pool this morning and the idea for this blog came into my head. I have a rather unique way of counting my lengths as I swim. To make my swim more interesting, I let each length correspond to a year in my life and I wait for some memory to bubble into my awareness. For example, when I was swimming length number fifteen this morning I went back to when I was 15 years old and some food for thought bubbled into my conscious awareness.

I remembered being in secondary school and studying the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations and it made me think about all the people that I had great expectations of. It has been through my immense anger at having been let down by some of my family, at a time that I needed them most in my life, that I realised that I had very high expectations of them. The truth that I needed to see in those “great expectations” was that I was still very much dependent on them. Interestingly, the verb expect is derived from Latin meaning to look out for and the metaphor is glaringly obvious now. My looking outside of myself for support was a summons to look in.

It has been a hard process to eventually accept that my expectations were rooted in fantasy and not in reality, but I gradually managed to reduce my expectations to zero. When you expect something from another, one thing is for sure, you will be disappointed. Now disappointment is an interesting word because when we are disappointed by others not meeting our expectations we are actually spilling the beans that we are dis-appointed from ourselves. What we need from another, we need to give to ourselves. What we crave from another, we need to give to ourselves. Interestingly, it is through our disappointment that we can learn to re-appoint with ourselves.

Expectations are dependency in disguise and serve to alert us to the urgent fact that we need to find inner dependence if we want to live happier and more meaningful lives. When we make an appointment with ourselves, we reconnect with our own inner stronghold. Expectations and Independence are inversely related. The more independent we become, the less we expect of others but sadly the less independent we are the more we expect of everyone and everything.

We can also have huge expectations of life and when it doesn’t go according to plan, we can become angry and depressed. I have learned that when we surrender our expectations of the perfect life and embrace our imperfectly, perfect life for what it is, a space of acceptance opens up and keeps expanding outwards. A wise rule of thumb that I have learned is to abandon all expectations of what you think your life should be like and instead embrace the cards that you have been dealt.

Have you got high expectations of others? Remember that when you put others on the pedestal of great expectations, one thing is for certain, they will eventually fall. Do the wise thing and put yourself on that pedestal and freedom will be your reward. Thank you for reading Friday’s Food 4 Thought,

With respect,

Steven

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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