My Fucking Feelings 03/20/’17 (expectations and prostate exams)

I’m cold. I didn’t think about bringing a jacket for some reason. The intersection between two facts, 1. living in Los Angeles my entire life and 2. rarely traveling, is what made me forget that other places don’t share our sun. I’m here to be on my very first local morning show. Technically I’ve been on TV before. But never as me. I did extra work during summers in high school to hang with the “cool kids” on the original 90210. But it was more about the food. They had a ridiculous budget. I also did a national navy commercial once. They made me wear a bowtie. Anyway, this time I’ll be promoting my first published

book. ← check it.

It’s weird to think I’m published. It doesn’t feel like I imagined. Maybe it will hit me when I actually walk into a Barnes and Noble, if I can find one open these days, and see my book on the self help shelf. I don’t know but I’ve learned that when we finally get what we have been dreaming about, it’s never how we dreamed it would be. I had the same feeling when I got my first paycheck as a screenwriter, when I passed my licensure exam to be a therapist, and when I got married. Huge pivotal moments in my life that I’ve dreamt about for years prior to them coming true. But when they actually happened, the events went as fast as they came. They were just moments. Time didn’t stop and my life didn’t change like I imagined. And then you become obsessed and consumed with your next dream and so easily forget the great thing that just happened.

I know. It makes me sound unappreciative. It makes me sound like an asshole. Real quick: Speaking of assholes, I finally got my first prostate exam. Again, not really what I imagined. Not that a probing finger up my ass is something I’ve been dreaming about. But it wasn’t the obvious that was uncomfortable. It was him staring at it, the inspection. I guess they have to examine before they probe. I didn’t know this. It was just a few minutes but it felt like an hour. When you know someone’s staring at you, every second feels like a cut.

Okay back to our accomplishments not matching up with what we imagined. It’s due to expectations. My learning these days is this: If you place expectations on experiences, you strip the experience. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about publishing books or prostate exams. We expect because we have a certain idea of what something should look or feel like. We bring our own definitions to the table. And when they don’t match our reality, we become disappointed and confused. Think about it. Didn’t some of your best life moments come when you least expected them? That’s because you had no expectations. Without expectations, we’re able to be in the moment. We’re able to be grateful. We don’t judge. We don’t come in to things loaded or with an angle. We are not narrow or entitled. It’s like the difference between getting a gift one day for no apparent reason and opening that predictable birthday present you get every year. The unexpected gift is always the better experience.

Expectations are also lined with control. When we expect things to go a certain way or people to act a certain way, and they don’t, we get instant anxiety because we feel out of control. Realty doesn’t match our blueprint. And chances are, you’ve also tied your value, worth, and ability to whatever you were expecting. So if it didn’t happen or didn’t happen in the way you imagined, you believe you are worth less.

So I’m going to work on expecting less from here on out. Or at least make a conscious effort to. But how? How do we stop doing what we’ve been programmed to do our entire lives? How do we suddenly stop wanting? First, know that there’s a difference between wanting and expecting. It’s okay to want. If you’re breathing, you’re going to want. Expecting is different. Expecting is wanting your wants to come in a certain package or time. The package you want your wants to come in is influenced by factors outside of yourself, like society norms, advertising, and all the shoulds you live with. But this may not be what the universe has for you. It may not line up with what you’re supposed to learn from the delivery. So you have to train your brain to want loosely. Yes, acknowledge the desire and go after it. Build it. Manifest it. Do everything you can in your power to make it a reality. But leave room for how and when it comes to you.

How do you train your brain to want loosely?

  1. Everything starts with awareness. Be aware of when you are wanting something to come in a certain way or during a certain time. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see that this happens a lot. Not just the big life things you’re expecting but also and especially the little expectations you live with daily. Think about how many times you’re disappointed every day because your expectations aren’t met. If you examine your disappointments, you’ll find your expectations.
  2. Turn your dial from expecting to accepting. Make a conscious effort to accept what’s in front of you. As it is. Let go of trying to control people and situations. Just accept. Fully. What’s there is what’s true, and truth is the only thing you can build on. Not all this other shit that’s in your head.
  3. Execute the action / behavior of accepting. What does accepting look like? A change in language? Not reacting? Practicing empathy and compassion?

The more you practice these three steps, the less you will expect. The less you expect, the less you will want to control. The less you control, the less anxiety and disappointment you will have. The less anxiety and disappointment, the more happier you will be.