“The weight of expectations limits how high we can soar.”
To open ourselves emotionally feels akin to standing on a precipice without a guardrail. But if we stand on the precipice having done our homework — to ground ourselves, understand ourselves, master our mind, teach ourselves the soft skills that enhance the quality of everyday life – interactions, opportunity — we have given ourselves a paragliding canopy that when we step into the unknown, we begin to soar rather than plummet and move with the wind.
Often the saying is shared, focus on what you can control and let go of the rest, but too often we don’t fully understand what we have control over, or if we do, we don’t put in the necessary work and time to strengthen the skills that put us in a powerfully advantageous position. All I can say is, the time is a worthwhile investment that will pay for itself and then some. Put in the time, so you can experience how awesome soaring can be.
The gift of letting go of expectations is that we open ourselves up to being surprised. Yes, admittedly, the surprises can sometimes be shockingly unwanted, but even if an unwanted occurrence happens, it takes us along a path where so long as we stay in the present and keep our mind open, beautiful surprises begin to reveal themselves. In fact, sometimes, I would argue, such unwanted events happen so that we cannot possibly have expectations, so all we can do is be open because we couldn’t fathom the script of what is happening. In such a case, we have been given an awesome gift. Our crutch of holding tightly onto expectations has been ripped away from us because it wasn’t actually helping us. In order to soar, we must refuse to reach for such a crutch again.
The voices and scripts of society can easily run through our minds even if we are engaged in something we are trying ardently to remain open toward and refrain from holding any expectations: how a certain moment should unfold, how long certain timelines should take, what information should be gained, and the role of all of the other people when you act or say a certain thing. But the reason scripts are written is to control the narrative, and we cannot control the narrative of living real life. We can try to control and sometime it appears others have done just that, but often unexpressed feelings are suppressed that eventually erupt years later hurting more people far more deeply than had to happen should we have tossed the script from the beginning.
Right now, you may be thinking about a particular journey you are on at the moment. You have hopes for how you would like it to unfold, but only time will tell, and that time, that waiting, can feel incredibly tortuous if we are not accustomed to letting go and being fully engaged with our everyday life.
Once you become more comfortable and find more peace in the present moment, (in other words, being Presence as talked about in this post), it becomes easier, dare I say more comfortable to not know and be excited about any and all surprises that will eventually cross your path. Why? Because you are not expending energy on something that may or may not happen, so you give all of your energy to now and the now becomes oh so much sweeter.
What is the “Now”?
The now is how you build your life, how you build your days, the rituals you create, the career or calling you pursue to contribute what you can uniquely give to the world, being loving and acting in integrity with those you currently are in relationships with (family, work, friends, community). When you are living a life you love living, you can be at peace with not knowing and you let go of expectations.
How do we let go of expectations?
- Release all stories of how tomorrow, next week, next year, the rest of our life should unfold.
- Hold ourselves fully in the present moment.
- Give gratitude for even the smallest details and occurrences that go well, bring you joy and nourish a beautiful moment.
- Focus on figuring out only the next best step upon which to focus your energy, time and capabilities.
- Fall in love with your everyday life (if you don’t love it, begin creating it intentionally – read TSLL’s 1st and 2nd book for inspiration and check out Podcast Bundle #5 – the fundamental skills to live a life of true contentment).
- Let go of passing judgment on others and even yourself.
- Give all that you can in each moment and communicate your needs (more rest, a break, good food) but make no excuses when things don’t go as expected or desired. A lesson rests in the unfolding whether wanted or not – be resolute in finding it.
More often than not, surprises are lovely gifts from the universe, and if your first response when such good news or events occur is to do a happy dance, then you are in good company with me. That is the key. When surprises happen, celebrate them. No matter how small, decide to put good energy back out into the world because after all, good energy came your way.
Your surprises deemed good will be unique to you and where you are along your life’s journey. Don’t let anyone tell you not to dance. Dance, be giddy, embrace your goofy, lovely self, because what we celebrate we invite more of into our lives. If we are too busy complaining about what isn’t happening, studies have actually showed, regular and prolonged complaining shrinks the hippocampus. I know! The hippocampus is an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. So we are doing ourselves not only a disservice, but making it more difficult to live well each time we habituate complaining into our approach to daily and engaging with the world.
Ultimately, we have a choice, and the better we habituate our lives to constructive habits that support a life that savors the everyday, a positive compound effect begins to take place. It begins subtly and may initially seem nothing is changing for the better, but before you realize it, you are worrying less about what you hope will happen and being open and embracing fully what is happening.
Wishing you a wonderful new week and may the surprises in your everyday be abundant and beautiful.
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9 Ways to Let Go of the Myth of a Perfect Life, episode #262