We all know that life has its ups and downs, that is part of the human experience. The ups bring us joy and the downs provide us with good learning opportunities. We learn to take the rough with the smooth.
Then there are pitfalls. Pitfalls are those unexpected events in life that sneak up on you and ruin your life’s plan.
Sometimes I reflect on what choices I would have made with all the knowledge I have today, not with regret but just in wonderment. Especially the hard lesson I learned about ‘expectations’. I have learned that having expectations can lead us into pitfalls, and keep us from happiness.
Expectations – the way our lives should go
Intellectually we know that we cannot predict the future but without realizing it, we do it every day. We unconsciously map out our lives, creating scenarios in our heads of how our lives should look, feel and be like. These are called expectations.
Expectations are natural and not necessarily all bad but having too many can lead to feeling disappointed, hurt and sometimes even devastated when they don’t happen. When our emotions are tied to them and we wait to be fulfilled by them, they become potential pitfalls.
You know when you’ve fallen into one, because you hear yourself saying things like:
- I shouldn’t be starting all over again at the age of 50.
- I’m 40, I should be married by now.
- I shouldn’t be renting at my age.
- I should have got that promotion.
How expectations are made
Expectations come from your beliefs, formed by your experiences and by society. In other words, we are a product of our environment.
Without a belief there is no expectation. We attach ourselves to our beliefs unconsciously. They become part of who we are.
So here is what you need to know about beliefs: they do not have to be permanent. As your life progresses, you get rid of the old and bring in the new.
So how do you know it is time to bring in the new? You know it is time to bring in the new when the old belief is causing you to suffer or keeping you from evolving as a person. If you used to wear size 14 pants and lost weight and are currently size 10, would you continue to wear the size 14 pants? Of course not! You would change into a size 10. Your beliefs work the same way. Your beliefs must change and fit into your current state of life. You are suffering because you keep trying to squeeze an old belief that no longer fits into your life.
A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”Muhammad Ali
My big fat expectations
Between the ages of 5 and 10 years old, I attended many weddings of my older cousins. Each of them looked so beautiful in their wedding dresses and they were treated like royalty. Delicious food was everywhere and everyone was enjoying themselves with laughter and dancing.
That left a huge impression on me and thus created the belief of “having a big wedding and being married” as a big must in my life.
After my divorce, that belief stayed with me. I realised I never had that big wedding and even worse, I wasn’t married anymore. It left me crushed.
For many years after, I stayed disappointed because I believed that old thought to be true and set in stone. Little did I know that I fell into a pitfall that was keeping me from being happy.
Letting go and letting life happen
For several years after my divorce, I hung on to that belief and it caused feelings of loneliness and a feeling that I missed out something for never having that big wedding. So I came to the realization that I had two choices, either keep suffering or let life just happen.
As I let life happen, I discovered a new sense of independence and appreciated ‘simplicity’. I started liking having a whole bed to myself and only worrying about what I wanted. I let go of wanting things to be big and much preferred for things to be simple and to the point. When that change happened, I wasn’t even aware that my beliefs had changed. Things just occurred naturally and I was more at peace. It wasn’t until later that I realized what happened.
Because I was open to change, I allowed my beliefs to change and therefore let go of that expectation.
Now, it’s not that I don’t want a partner, it’s just that I don’t need a partner. When the attachment to that old belief went away, the suffering disappeared with it.
Don’t let expectations keep you down
Are you ready for a happier life? Start identifying your beliefs that no longer serve you, bring in your new ‘wardrobe’ that fits you today.
There are just 3 things to do:
- Start taking inventory of the expectations you have about your life.
- Decide to let them go and let life happen.
- See the transformation take place before your eyes!
Life can change quicker than you know.