Is This Habit Holding You Back?

Jul 22, 2021

I recently went on an overnight mini-vacation with my husband without kids, something we’ve done maybe three times in 16 years. Unknown to me, I created a vision in my mind about how things would go. Activities we would do, how we would spend our time. 

The day before the trip, this all came to my awareness when something happened that changed my vision (but didn’t affect the trip). I found myself irritated and frustrated about the sudden change. Kinda like one feels when they go to the beach for a day and it ends up being a rainy day! 

When those uncomfortable emotions came up, I clued in and asked myself what was up. I realized I had created expectations. Luckily, I was able to see this whole dynamic, affirm I wanted to have a lovely time, and indeed we did. 

I’ve now been watching myself all week and expectations are coming to my awareness again! How often do we decide how things should go ahead of time? I challenge you to ask yourself; you too might be surprised at the frequency.

So what is really happening here?

At the root of expectations is a desire for control. At the root of control is a need to quell fear.

Fear? Yup. Fear of missing out on an opportunity, fear of wasting resources (time, money), fear of not having a ‘good’ time, fear of never healing/changing/being free of a problem. Anything.

The problem is this: when we are so focused on our expectations and controlling outcomes to go the way we want, we miss the present moment. We miss opportunities and insights because we are focused on our story of needing to control the situation with our expectations. We certainly miss out on joy.

So how can we work with this in our lives?

First, we need to spot the dynamic. I was not able to recognize hidden control but I did see where I had expectations that weren’t getting met. They are much easier to spot. Notice when you are creating a story in your mind about what you want to happen and then get aggravated when reality doesn’t match. Use that as an indicator light.

In that moment, explore your irritation. What caused it? Why are you resisting what is (current reality)? Get curious with your thoughts and reactions. Maybe challenge those thoughts: can you find any positives about the current situation? Can you even maybe find a reason why this outcome might be better?!

When we explore these thoughts, we can usually see them as thoughts, not as reality, not as us. They are just thoughts.

Can you find acceptance of what is? You will know you’ve found it because the difficult emotions vanish and leave peace in their place.

Use this knowledge and insight to try to release expectations all together. It’s great to have a vision, to have goals, to have a plan. But we want to introduce flexibility into the picture: the flexibility to move with life, to adapt, to still nurture joy and feel protected.

This flexibility of thought directly corresponds to our joints. As you become more flexible and release the fear that is causing the need for control, your joints will loosen and become less inflamed. You’ll also give your colon a boost as you release the need to hold onto these expectations: take notice if you tend toward constipation.

As you move through this coming week, I invite you to look for times where expectations are limiting you. See them and then make a commitment to ‘go with the flow’ and find the good in the situation. See what ease this can create in your life!

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