Expectations: The act or state of looking forward or anticipating
Every day in our lives, we live in expectation of something or the other – the expectation that our needs will be met, the expectation we will get a promotion, our kids will do well in school and so it goes on and on!
The reality is that most of our expectations do not get met, which sets us up for major disappointments in life. What we do not realise that our expectations in life set the stage for a lot of unhappiness in our lives.
Last year when BB & GG were in their PSLE year, I went through many cycles of expectations – that they will be successful in their DSAs and get into their dream schools, that they do spectacularly well in the exams and get into the schools through the posting route, that I land a great job and so on and so forth. Each time when my expectations didn’t yield the results I wanted, I used to be very disappointed and in some cases, even went under mild bouts of depression. I was very disappointed, irritable and grouchy and then when things didn’t happen as I expected them to, even disillusioned with life and GoD! This took a toll on my relationships with everyone – S, BB & GG and even my helper. I think I was at my worst when the PSLE results came out and both didn’t do as well as we expected them to (see that expectation again!)
Sometime during the year-end holidays, something metamorphosed internally and I decided I will not have any expectations at all, if things happen, then that’s wonderful, but I will be happy with any outcome. It’s been a month now and I have found these benefits of not having any or having very low expectations:
Low Stress Levels: When I started to let go and had no expectations, I found that I was not as much stressed as before. I was not too hung up on the possible outcomes and any of the outcomes which would arise were all equal to me, hence it did not matter what the outcome was and so much lower stress levels. As an example, when the children had to choose their Co-Curricular Activity (CCA), BB had put the Flying Club as his first choice. This CCA was one of the main reasons that BB had chosen his secondary school and if he didn’t get it, it would negate the whole reason for putting the school as his first choice. Later after the choices were exercised, I heard that for every available place, there were 2-3 applicants and that the club was being very selective this year. Previously, I would have prayed hard for this outcome and bartered with God as well as have high expectations on BB being selected. This time, I told myself, it does not matter what CCA BB gets, it will be ok. With such low expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised when BB did get the Flying Club as his CCA!
Better Relationships: I can’t stress enough on this benefit. When I was high strung with the load of expectations, my relationship with everyone was based on the expectation I had from them. When I removed expectations from the equation, things became much smoother. When we remove expectations from our loved ones, we open ourselves to them and have a much better relationship with them.
Peace of Mind: One blessed by-product of letting go of expectations has been a better quality of sleep for me. I don’t have a million things swirling around my head all the time and especially at night, which used to impact both quality and quantity of sleep. These days I sleep almost as soon as my head touches the pillow. I have a lot of inner peace also as I am no longer caught up with the whys and whats of life. I no longer over analyse my life which has resulted in a lot of inner calm!
Become more Aware: As I start to let go of expectations, I realise I am becoming more aware of myself, my internal self, the one that no one really knows about. When I start to have expectations, I internalize it and try to let it go, this way raising internal awareness. I am also able to focus more on the present and not on a vague future based on my expectations which leads to peace of mind.
So let go of potential outcomes and learn to live in the now. You will also find that life suddenly becomes so much easier and happier!