Those darn pesky, sometimes wicked expectations, are a common source of disappointment and hurt. Be gone with you expectations for you serve no purpose other than provoke resentment and revenge just as the Wicked Witch of the West poking her bony finger at Dorothy saying, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!
I’m not sure why this vivid imagery popped into my head as I read Deborah Hawkins blog, Get Past Disappointment: Release Expectations and Live Your Own Life. Perhaps its simply because I just recently saw the Wizard of Oz again. Regardless, there is was rolling around, mixing in with my thoughts as I’m reading, the authors words resonating within. I, like Deborah Hawkins, have learned over my life of an innate ability for “soothing ruffled feelings and for getting people to talk about things they want to talk about but can’t seem to express directly.” And I too so often wished, wanted, hoped for others to reciprocate and do the same for me, only to suffer disappointment. It was when I learned this was an expectation I held and not just a simple wish that the light went on – the AH-Ha moment of an epiphany. It was then, I realized my wishing, wanting, hoping other people would give to me the way I so easily give to them was an expectations not simply a wish. And that I have the power within, just as Dorothy did with her ruby slippers and own belief, to change this. I can choice to change my thinking, do it different, spy on myself to catch the forming of an expectation, and stop it and let it go, melt away.
When I’m uncertain whether it is an expectation or not, I’ll actually ask myself the question, “Is this something I would like to have happen, a nice to have, or an expectation, a need to have?” Pondering this question, I remind myself that I own my “feelings, expressions, and abilities, and other people own theirs.” I remind myself that I am no more responsible for validating, appeasing or soothing their feelings, actions, and ways of being then they are for mine. Furthermore, while I may have this sort of ‘gift’ – an unconscious natural ability – to empathize with others, make them feel heard and acknowledged, and often help them find a resolution to their issues, it a mistake on my part to believe, or expect others have the same ability. and are able or should reciprocate.
It is also a mistake on my part to give it so automatically and freely to others without considering the personal cost to myself. That is, how it drains my energy so there is little to nothing left for looking after me. So in addition to questioning my own thoughts about others as being possible expectations, I am learning to practice more discernment in giving to others. That is, observing and realistically assessing where I am emotionally and the nature of my relationship with others at the time.
- How am I? That is how and where is my head space, my emotions, my energy level, my priorities, and my desire and ability to give to another at any moment in time?
- How is my relationship with this person? Is our relationship one that reciprocates my care and attention in return, in a balanced meaningful way to me?
- Is our relationship one I feel a strong mutual commitment and desire to invest the time and energy to nurture, demonstrated by action and not simply empty words.
- Do I feel there is a complimentary, give and take of respect, compassion and genuine, yet not co-dependent, care for each other?
By asking such questions of myself, I am learning to apply my sensitivity and abilities to looking after my needs first, mitigating my disappointment and hurt with giving more than I receive. As such, I am more balanced and grounded, operating in a centered emotional zone, where I am better able to give to the fewer people, that truly reciprocate, and therefore matter – are important to me and my life.
This seemingly simple process is more complex than it seems. Like all humans, my programming, which in my case is to give to others, is a long time habit and not easily changed. It requires vigilance, practice and more practice, mistakes, learning, refinement and more practice. It does work though and becomes easier, more automatic, and in time is a new habit. Once it has a hold, that is become consciously competent at doing, watch out. It has amazing magical impact one’s sense of self and happiness, melting away hurt and suffering of disappointment as quickly as throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Poof! Expectations gone. It’s a wonderful feeling indeed.
If you suspect your thinking may fall into any of the traps of having expectations for how other people should behave, read the original blog, Get Past Disappointment: Release Expectations and Live Your Own Life, by Deborah Hawkins.