I remember the first time I was told to let go of my expectations. The statement seemed impossible. A life without expectations…are you serious??
From that moment to this, it’s something I struggle with. I remember arguing with my friend over this outrageous statement. “So when I stop to fuel up my car, I shouldn’t expect gas to come out of the pump? When I wake in the morning, I can’t expect the sun to be present?” So it went.
The answer to all my arguments was no. I hope gas will come out of the pump, but the station may be out of petrol. The sun is only present while it exists. Someday it may burn out. If you live in the Midwestern U.S., you may not see the sun for weeks on end, as winter grayness covers everything. The sun is still there. It simply hides behind a thick blanket of clouds.
Here’s the thing…expectations are premeditated resentments. We all of us expect something. It is human nature. It becomes a problem when a person with few coping skills has a long list of unmet expectations. She becomes bitter, resentful and angry. If she holds them long enough, her unmet expetations have the power to isolate, to fester and to kill.
Most of my resentments these days all center around what I expect of other people. I try not to have them, but they creep in from time to time. Simple things like expecting my kids to do their own laundry and keep their bathroom cleaned up, WITHOUT ME TELLING THEM TO. That last part is the key.
Another expectation I have popped up recently, with an attached resentment. In this case, I couldn’t see it myself. I had to run it past my mentor to unpack and look at the situation. It involves my husband who is deployed to Afghanistan.
Since Mike left in September, we’ve been able to maintain steady communication, thanks to Wifi and Apple iMessage and FaceTime. He knows ahead of time when he will be out running missions and when he’ll be back. This week, our communication hasn’t been as frequent. He’s at his place on post, no missions until January.
Wednesday we didn’t talk at all, not even a text. Thursday, I got a cryptic one-sentence response to something I sent him, then nothing. By Friday I was feeling lonely, ignored and fearful, simply from a lack of contact. Nothing else had changed. He was training and the 9.5 hour time difference between Afghanistan and the U.S. (Eastern time) kept us from connecting.
Friday morning came. I woke up a bubble off center. I made my coffee and sat down to read my morning meditation. I couldn’t stay focused. It was then my husband FaceTimed me. What should have been a happy conversation started out with me unloading all my internal baggage without even a thought. I had no idea I had so much resentment and fear built up. I’d stuffed it instead of letting it go. What were a few minor things flared into a serious situation!
Thankfully my husband knows me well. He let me run out of steam, then we had an actual conversation. I felt relieved and revived after we talked. It was then I realized what I’d done. It’s a repeating pattern, one I’m working hard to break.
We see what we are conditioned to focus on. Changing a mindset is not as easy as the gurus on social media declare it to be. It requires a strong motive to change, learning a new behavior and repeating it until it replaces your old default, and often damaged, way of looking at the world.
What is your morning mindset? How do you wake up? Ready to take on the day, your hours organized into tasks, with a fitness plan in place?
What about time to indulge in your favorite hobby or side job for those of us with an entrepreneurial spirit? It took me years to discover this small piece of the puzzle.
The mind I wake up with is the same mind I will default to all day.
I am not an organized person by nature. I spent most of my life bouncing around with grand ideas and no plans. As a result, many of my dreams never gained traction. My mind often so disorganized, I can’t remember half of what I never got done!
What is your motivation? How do you push yourself? If you don’t, someone else will be pushing you. That’s the way the world works. It might be your parents, spouse, someone you work with or for, your friends, or even strangers.
One thing I learned years ago, but just recently put into practice, is the idea we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. I learned this probably 20 years ago. I didn’t know what to do with the concept at the time. I didn’t realize surrounding myself with the people I did allowed me to stay in a negative mindset, one that fueled my needs at the time. I only just realized I needed to change my mindset in order to change the people around me!
I began by looking at my life and the people in it. I WROTE IT DOWN. I can’t see anything when it’s spinning in my head, but on paper what seemed to be a normal life was anything but. I looked at who I was spending my time with and how the time spent made me feel, think or act.
The result was letting go of a few very toxic relationships while embracing positive people I’d been drawn to. I began to intentionally choose who I was spending time with and how much. In my journal, I made notes of what felt good and what didn’t. I asked myself two very important questions.
“What feels like love?”
“What do I want to trade my life for?”
Today these are the benchmarks I measure my relationships with, my time given in pursuit of various things and most importantly, what I give back to the world.
Who I spend my time with often dictates what I’m doing with my time. Those two combined determines what I give back to the world. There are only two choices…I’m either contributing love or fear. Every other human emotion stems from these two.
We don’t have to make huge life adjustments to change our mindset. It can start with one question. What are you trading your life for? We have a finite amount of time here before we move on. I want mine to count. What about you?
Robin Aldrich is the author of Bootstrapped! Creating a Small Business on a Budget. Robin founded the Boomerang Business Project in 2015 to help entrepreneurs thrive through personal and professional development.
For more info, please visit Robin’s website!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work. I wish you a blessed and prosperous day! ~ R.
Originally published at medium.com