Great Expectations (or not)
Here we are.
This is not a throw away sentence. It’s perhaps the most profound reminder we’ve got.
We will never ever experience the present moment ever again. It’s gone in a heartbeat and yet is the only sure thing we ever really touch—presence, being, the here and now.
If you’re like me, presence becomes harder and harder to fully grasp in seasons of waiting and anticipation. At nearly eight months pregnant, I’m struggling to stay in the moment and soak up these final days of life as a non-parent (read: sleep).
I’ve always felt summer can be a bit like the Holidays as it kicks up a whole host of unique demands and expectations, leaving me often anxious if not resentful. It’s tempting to compare my life to others I see magically splattered all over social media cavorting around far away places by fake looking bodies of water with glamorous wardrobes to boot. Hell, I haven’t even gotten in a pool all year long and feel more like a weary beached whale than an energetic summer explorer.
Where do these expectations even come from? My hunch is, they come from the stories we make up in our heads. Ah, those glorious narratives of certainty, guarantees, entitlement, essentially—suffering.
Last week we unpacked this idea that pain is inevitable while suffering is optional.
Why? Because suffering is the story we make up about our pain. “I should have a better job that lets me travel more.” “I should have a partner that enjoys doing the same things I do.” “I shouldn’t have to work so hard. After all, it’s summer and I deserve to relax and enjoy my time.”
Whereas these may be true, I don’t know how much progress we make changing our reality by playing the victim. In fact, there are no guarantees in this life. That said, keeping unrealistic expectations flush in our back pocket is a fast way to prevent abundance in our everyday experience.
As an Enneagram type four, I often struggle with this pervasive longing for what’s missing in the moment. For example, “Ah, the sunset is beautiful, but I wish it were a bit cooler so I could really enjoy it more.” I know. Gross.
This dangerous habit creates a crusty resentment which in turn drives away joy.
Because the struggle is so real for me, I created a little Expectation Inventory to keep me in check a few years back. I’ve come to wholeheartedly believe the pivotal moment in every unrealistic expectation is simple: gratitude. It tethers us in the here and now. It gently leads us back home to presence. Gratitude changes everything in an instant.
Today, I’m sharing my inventory with you. Keep it close and use like guard rails when you start to slip into resentment. Maybe, like me, they will keep you on track and reminded of what you do have as opposed to what you lack.
How do I feel right now?
What unrealistic expectations am I feeding into?
What is the payoff for having these expectations of myself or others?
What would it feel like if I were able to let go of these?
What do I need in order to let these expectations go?
What am I grateful for?
Love & Gratitude,