{118} Friend’s Prompt #20

How about keeping expectations in check for peace of mind?

MargieB left this one for me. I know that for her, as for many of us, 2016 has been a difficult if not downright tumultuous year. Hopes dashed, plans falling apart, health issues arising or continuing, etc. My reply here is not just in reference to her, but applies to me and quite a few of my friends these days.

So, we often cling to hope that things will get better. We set expectations because achieving those things, they will make us happier/better off/healthier. It seems so reasonable.

I wrote about hope before, about abandoning it, because hope will drive you crazy. It’s always that bridge too far, always out of reach, because that is nature of hope be focused on something you don’t already have.

I think “keeping expectations in check” falls under this umbrella of hope, because the idea is kind of like, well, if I don’t hope too much then maybe the disappointments won’t hurt as bad. If I don’t get excited about things, then I won’t be sad when they don’t happen the way I want too!

Except, we’re not wired that way. For one thing, we can’t numb ourselves to the sting of disappointment without numbing ourselves to joy. Our emotional landscape is an all-in kind of thing; this is why so many people spend so much time and energy trying to numb themselves utterly and completely — it’s just easier. Which is telling, yes? Wipe it all out if you can’t aim for a strategic strike.

This is why we cannot limit expectations, I think. Yes, we can temper and tie down those expectations, it’s possible, but doing so also also tempers and ties down the things we really want to feel, like love and happiness and amazement.

Anyway, expectations and hope are not the same thing as making a plan. A plan is simply a list or an outline or a route. Expectations and hope are the veneer we put over these things to fill the holes of our fear. They are emotional investments in a future that is uncertain; of course there is going to be at least some disappointment, in the end.

It always seems to come around to the idea of “be here, now.” Be in the present moment. Make the plans, do the things we want to accomplish, search out our pot of gold or higher education degree or our way to parenthood or the next medical treatment. Whatever. But don’t try to hold emotions in check by bargaining them on unreliable futures.

I think peace of mind is less about control than acceptance.

Originally published at ::::KimBoo York.