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Loosening the grips of expectation

Did you have expectations for this year? If you did, I hope your experiences exceeded them! If they didn’t…me too! This week I'm sharing my reflections on what we can do when our experiences don’t meet our expectations. I’ve learned a lot about expectations over the last year. Fundamentally, I believe it feels better to let them go. We create expectations to mitigate uncertainty because we’re creatures who love to know what’s coming next. Because uncertainty often creates feelings of unease and anxiety, we create stories about what we expect an experience to be like so we don’t get surprised. We feel safer if we can predict and prepare. Then when the experience happens, we judge the hell out of it based on the story we told ourselves about how it should be. When we fixate on how an experience measures up, we don’t allow ourselves to experience the moment for what it is. Expectations take us out of the present and remove the possibility for us to stay open to life’s unfolding.

As much as I have learned to practice living without creating expectations, they still creep in. The one area where they really show up is in the expectations I have of myself. While parts of me enjoy the experience of the unknown, other parts of me feel very challenged by uncertainty and hold onto stories of fear and resistance to the unpredictable nature of things. If I set expectations and don’t meet them, I beat myself up. I get hard on myself and tell myself I can’t be trusted to meet the criteria I set out. Does that sound familiar to you? Here's a recent example. This year I had an expectation of myself to achieve a certain work-related goal and I haven’t met that expectation. I thought that my commitment to showing up weekly for my goal would have been enough to achieve the outcome I had expected. I’ve circled through the emotions of frustration and disappointment. I’ve had to do some work to meet myself with compassion when a part of me felt like a failure. What I’ve learned from this experience is that the expectations I set for myself didn’t allow any flexibility to adapt to the huge personal shifts and transformations that happened this year. The shifts that saw me actually living my values of honouring my energy, taking more time and creating more space. I’ve noticed that the more I have moved into alignment with my highest self, the way I work has changed. I am more fluid, more allowing, more creative and open to change. I am more compassionate and more curious. Slowly and steadily I am loosening the grips of self-judgment. It’s very difficult to adhere to expectations in this space if they come from a place of rigidity and control. These are two opposing energies.

I can tell you, in my experience, letting go of expectations feels so much lighter!

Whilst I might not always follow my own guidance (I’m human after all), this is something I always invite my new clients to consider. It’s so easy to want to have expectations about a process like coaching. It's natural to want reassurance that we can expect a certain outcome in a specific time frame. But when we have expectations that carry the energy of control, this brings contraction. We limit the potential to experience the openness and spaciousness within us that invites infinite potential and possibility. Expectation is measurable and quantifiable, but there is much less room for creativity and flow. My offering is that we all seek to remove expectations and place our energy into our intentions. When we hold a soft yet powerful focus on our intention, our energy will be guided forward into spaces free of judgment. Into spaces of freedom to explore the unexpected, the uncertain and the potential that lies beyond our current perceptions. As you think about what 2024 might hold for you, open yourself to the potential to experience more wonder and awe by replacing expectations with a curiosity to see what could happen and an openness to be accepting of whatever happens. Set your goals, explore your dreams and loosen the grips of expectation.


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