Do you ever catch yourself thinking about what other people should or shouldn’t be doing, how they should or shouldn’t respond to you and what they should or shouldn’t be saying?
Expectations are part of our human nature and these expectations color our experience and can have an influence on how we respond and react to just about anyone and anything we encounter. While expectations can help us to form a view of the world, they can also skew our perspective of the world, sometimes in unwanted ways.
Expectations are the one thing that can ruin relationships and destroy friendships because someone is not living up to our expectations, which can be countless, so why do we have expectations? We have expectations because we think other people think exactly the same way we do, forgetting that everybody is completely unique with their own point of view. We have expectations because we are looking to get a certain outcome from a particular situation and interaction and we have expectations because of insecurities and fear of change.
When our expectations aren’t met, we have two choices. We can either get frustrated and cause damage to ourselves and our relationships or we can learn to let go of expectations. While letting go of expectations can seem like a daunting task, it is absolutely possible and definitely worthwhile.
Here are our TOP 10 tips to learn to let go of expectations.
#1 Detach from Outcome
When you are obsessing about whether or not the other person is going to act and speak according to your expectations, you are missing out on the present moment that you could enjoy. For example if you are expecting your significant partner to ask you to marry him or her, you may be missing out on the enjoyment of that passionate kiss. Trust in the grand scheme of things and that things will happen exactly as they should. Enjoy the process and don’t jump ahead to the end of the story.
#2 Don’t Take Things Personally
Your expectations, your opinions and your perspectives are yours and it’s important to remember that the same thing goes for every other person. Whenever you feel criticized or judged by someone else, don’t take it personally, it’s simply their perspective of a certain situation and their reaction is a reflection of their own expectations. Once you can shift your perspective to acknowledging this simple truth, you can dramatically improve your interactions with others, learn to let go of expectations and let others be.
#3 Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to get us into the present moment in an incredibly positive way and chances are, when you are thinking about something positive that you are grateful for, you forget about thinking what should be or what isn’t. If you find yourself ruminating about unmet expectations, turn your focus and energy to recognizing all the things – even the smallest things – that are positive in your life right now and expectations will magically disappear.
#4 Be Open to Possibilities
Just think about it, if our expectations would be met all the time and things would always happen the way we hope, life would be extremely predictable and without any excitement whatsoever. Life is full of endless possibilities, but if we have too many expectations, we limit ourselves and resist letting life unfold as it is meant to unfold. Having a myriad of expectations goes against the flow of life, so let it go and enjoy the unpredictable flow.
#5 Communicate Your Expectations
One of the biggest downfalls of unmet expectations is that you expect others to act in a certain way without them even knowing what you expect of them. Expectations can be like little tests we play with others though we don’t let them in on the meaning and set them up for failure, which means that we are disappointed that the other person hasn’t met our expectations. If you do have expectations, let the other person know, this will do wonders to your interactions and relationships as well as your level of happiness.
#6 Laugh it Off
When things don’t go your way and your expectations aren’t met, laugh it off. Yes, you may have dreamed about a certain outcome but things turned out completely different and while you didn’t get what you wanted, you may have experiences that will become a hilarious memory that will stay with you forever. Laugh it off, because laughter makes even the oddest, most unexpected experience enjoyable.
#7 Practice Acceptance
Stop ruminating about the past and second-guessing your actions from last week. Stop wishing things would go back to the way they once were. Everything happens for a reason so forget ‘should’, ‘could’ and ‘would’ and accept what is going on right here, right now. Remember, all that’s important is this present moment because the present is where life happens and accept the past as it was as well as today as it currently is.
#8 Seek to Understand
Everybody is expressing their emotions, feelings and thoughts in a different way, it may be through action, it may be through words, it may be through physical touch. Just because someone communicates in a different way than you do doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s not that they aren’t trying to express what’s going on, it’s not their actions, it’s your understanding that needs to change. Keep in mind that we are all different and expecting someone else to behave and speak the way we do is only going to set us up for disappointment.
#9 Stay in the Present
Be in the present moment and observe your thoughts. Are you holding on to expectations about other people and how they are supposed to act? Whenever you aren’t living in the present moment, you get disappointed and frustrated because another person isn’t behaving the way you think he or she should. If you are constantly expecting other people to act, speak and even love the way you expect, you aren’t going to find peace of mind and go down a path of fear and rejection. If you can let go of your expectation of others, you will be able to create your own happiness.
#10 Remember Whatever Happens is Meant to Happen
We know it sounds cliché, but that expectation you had in your mind was just not the right thing to happen at least not for now. While there is always the possibility that your expectations and what you think you want may come to fruition at a later time when you are actually ready for it, but if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be and something else and much better will come along instead.
Learn to let go of your expectations, it is a truly liberating experience. We are never in complete control of what happens to us, what situations we encounter or how people react, what we do have control over is how we choose to respond to any given situation and person. When things don’t turn out as planned we have a choice to either indulge in the downward spiral of disappointment or we can choose to let go and move on.
LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM EXPECTATIONS AND CELEBRATE LIFE MORE SPONTANEOUSLY
Joschi & Monika