Great Expectations… Again

Expectations: strong beliefs that something will happen in the future; a belief that someone should receive or achieve something

As I sat down to draft this post, it was with the expectation that I had developed an idea upon which I had not drawn before. I was subsequently disappointed to discover that I had covered this topic in a previous blog. Much in the same way that this idea popped up, expectations recur in my daily life.

Like many of us, for better or worse, I find my mood and outlook on events colored by expectations. I get stuck in my mind anticipating what I feel should happen. And, more often than not, the reality is nothing close to what I had envisioned.

Earlier this week, I was scheduled to teach an outdoor yoga class in the evening. According to my meticulously curated plan, we would move through a relaxing hour-long yoga session in the park followed by wine and socializing. I had mentally organized the poses, calculated how many people that I anticipated would attend and tracked the weather for days. None of these things mattered though as the skies grew cloudier, the temperatures dropped and the rain began to fall. As the day became more dreary, so did my outlook about the event.

I found myself growing more and more pessimistic. This went from a class that I was excitedly anticipating to one that I was feeling quite cranky about teaching. I began to think that no one would even come.

As I waited for the start of the class, I stepped outside to make one last observation of the weather. As the sun was making its way through the now cloudless sky towards the horizon in the west, I paused, sat down and let myself feel its warmth. Sheltered from the wind by a band shell, I noticed how beautiful the evening really was. It may not have been as warm as I wanted it to be, and I may not have ended up with the largest crowd, but those who did come mindfully moved through the poses, sipped wine and most importantly, enjoyed each other’s company.  

As had happened so many times before, what I expected had not come to fruition, and though the class was nothing like I had imagined, it turned out exactly as it was supposed to.

Although we may never be able to completely free ourselves from expectations, it is important to recognize that they exist and try to manage them. This tempering of expectations leaves the door open to having more natural and genuine life experiences.

When do you most feel the weight of expectations? Is it at work each day? With family? For yourself? Recall a time that you went out and spend time with friends or family and had an unexpectedly amazing experience. Consider how amazing it felt to be surprised by all that that moment had to offer.  Now, recall a time where you thought that something was going to be absolutely amazing and you were completely let down. Even when the experience was pleasant, it could not possibly have lived up to all that you imagined it would be.

This is how this is how expectations work. When we have them, we can’t help but to be let down by an experience. If instead, we are able to enter a situation without expectations, we leave room to create new memories, to experience growth and to open ourselves up energetically to things that we may have never even imagined possible.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by people who remind me to let go of expectations on a daily basis. When I can release them, I find that I live more freely and lightly. I’m not held back by what I think I should do, feel or experience. I am more optimistic and better able to enjoy each moment.

The weather changes. People come to yoga or they don’t. Circumstances change and each moment passes. What we actually do with each moment is what counts, not what we think or hope will happen. This experience was a well-needed reminder to enjoy each moment as it is instead of focusing on how I hope it will be.  

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