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Something or someone external? A physical obstacle? You? Your mindset? Answer honestly. For me, it’s expectations. Expectations bred from the over-consumption of television and YA novels. Expectations put in place by society and groupthink. Expectations imagined by my own naive mind. Expectations of how things should be, personally, romantically, and professionally. A world in which everyone has the best of intentions and plays fairly – and those who don’t, actually reap what they sow. A world in which true love and soulmates exist and are a possibility for everyone. A perfect match. Perfect balance. A world in which respect is earned and everyone is appreciated for their hard work.
Life would be less disappointing and painful if I had no expectations. I know that sounds cynical but hear me out! If I could take anyone and anything just as they are, without placing upon them the burden of my expectations (which are inherently subjective based on my own upbringing and experiences) my connections with people could be deeper, my work more fulfilling. I’d be operating from a place of abundance – complete and whole in and of myself, rather than from a place of scarcity – expecting others to fill voids.
What I have done to work on this is short and simple: mindfulness and meditation. Focusing on the present moment, just as it is, without assigning it any sort of adjectives like “good” or “bad”. When certain emotions arise, whether comfortable or not, I simply observe them. Coming into any moment with a blank slate and an open heart, rather than with burdens from the past or with the weight of expectations, ensures that most moments are perfect just the way they are.
The fear of unmet expectations has kept me from connecting with people. There has been so much disappointment in the past because some don’t relate to the world the way I do. They don’t relate to me the way I’d like them to. Unmet expectations. They’ve kept me from appreciating people for who they are. Imperfect, lovable, flawed, kind human beings – just like me.
Accepting and appreciating myself for who I am and accepting and appreciating others for who they are became possible once I started loving myself unconditionally, whether I met my own expectations or not. I’m realizing now that any criticism my mind comes up with is just a projection of my own insecurities, my own weaknesses and flaws. I would react particularly strongly to any sort of incident that reminded me too much of my own misgivings. Now that I’m aware of this thought pattern, I can use those moments to reflect upon my own attitude rather than putting the burden of imperfection upon someone else. Expectations – expecting myself and others to be something we’re not – have been the speed bump on my road to happiness, enlightenment, peace…whatever term you want to insert here. Life is much less of a struggle if you take the obstacles you have control over out of the way.
So I’ll ask again, what is standing in your way right now? What do you plan on doing about it?