Expectations are not a source of suffering

There’s a belief floating around that having expectations is a cause of suffering. Well, I disagree and here’s why I think everyone needs to have more expectations.

  • Having expectations means you have a standard for yourself and anything that falls below it will not be accepted.

  • Having expectations means you know yourself well enough to know what you will accept or reject.

  • Having expectations means that you are confident enough in yourself that nothing can sway you from achieving your ideal.

In my opinion, the real cause of suffering is harboring wrong expectations.

What are wrong expectations?

1. Wrong expectations are based on beliefs created from faulty conditioning and programming.

In my transformational coaching work around expanding self-awareness and living with intention, I help people understand themselves better through self-reflection work to find the root causes of the blocks preventing them from having the quality of life they want. Inevitably, these blocks are formed by early conditioning and programming from parents, teachers, media, other environmental factors and emotional trauma.

2. Wrong expectations are those dependent upon other people to fulfill in order for you to be happy.

Many people often harbor expectations of how other people should live, what they should eat, how they should behave or believe, how they should speak or look, where they should live, what kind of car they should drive. It’s common sense that we cannot control others, nor can we always control our external environment, so why do some people insist on making themselves miserable by expecting their external environment to mold to their expectations?

I believe the solution to creating right expectations is really very simple and learning to create or have right expectations is a process; a process that first requires self-reflection on a very deep level.

The kind of self-reflection required is one that exposes our prior conditioning and programming and helps us make the connection between that programming and how we behave, what we believe, and who we are today.

For example, if you struggle with relationships, one thing you can do is reflect on the things you learned about relationships in your past starting with childhood. It’s important to go back to your earliest memories because during childhood is when those emotional connections around what we believe about ourselves and our place in the world were formed.

Learning takes many forms so reflect back on things you heard, witnessed or were expressly taught. Another important step in this reflection process is to also reflect on how what you learned or were taught made you feel. Often, during intense emotional situations, we subconsciously make decisions about what we are experiencing and those decisions determine how we behave or what we believe in our adult life.

Once you’ve reflected back on the things you learned about relationships (replace relationships with whatever you struggle with most in your adult life), next ask yourself how the beliefs you have around relationships or money or food or sex or love are serving you today. If they aren’t serving you, then you must find a way to invalidate them. A very simple way is to ask whether that belief is true or not.

For example, it’s not true that all men are jerks or that all women are emotional.

Attempting to invalidate a belief is one way to bust invalid beliefs. What you may have believed as a child may no longer be a truth for you today and yet it has been those subconscious beliefs created in childhood that have been driving your behavior and causing you to struggle in your relationships (career, finances, health, etc.).

Using hypnotherapy is a great tool to help your subconscious reveal deep-seated beliefs, when they were formed, what experience created them as well as to release them so you can adopt more positive, supportive beliefs. Hypnotherapy is a process of connecting with the subconscious to bring awareness to the most important part of ourselves; the part the drives how and who we be in the world.

Part one of the solution is exposing false beliefs. Once you have exposed false beliefs, it’s very important to maintain awareness when you are triggered in order to prevent new false beliefs from taking root and you can do that by becoming an observer.

Part two of the solution is becoming the observer. The observer is the impartial you, the unattached you, the questioning you.

Simply defined, an observer watches or notices. As the observer, you are responsible only for watching or noticing your own thoughts and reactions. We have hundreds, even thousands of thoughts and reactions every single day depending on the stimuli we are exposed to.

We get stimulated by our work, in our relationships, by what we see on tv, what we hear in passing and the words we read. Any one of those things can trigger us into feelings of happiness, joy, sadness, anger, frustration, humiliation, disappointment, overwhelm, and the list goes on.

Learning how to observe your thoughts and feelings, rather than detach from them, attach to them or be defined by them is paramount to maintaining self-awareness and creating and having right expectations.

I recommend reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer for more on becoming the observer.

What are right expectations?

1. Right expectations are based in self-awareness and self-knowledge.

2. Right expectations are based in self-love.

3. Right expectations are those dependent only upon you fulfilling in order for you to be happy.

The only expectation I have of myself is to grow; to recognize when I’m being triggered, to investigate the root cause of those triggers and to not allow myself to be taken out of a place of peace and right intentions.

I challenge you to take a fresh look at your expectations. Are they based in ego? Are they based on a need to prove something or seek revenge? Do you have expectations dependent on other people or your external environment?

Expecting other people to behave, do, say, live, speak, or look how you think they should rather than focusing on yourself and what will make you happy will only lead to misery because, as we all know, you cannot control other people. When you let go of the need to control your external environment, your life will become much more peaceful and positive.

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