Living Free of Expectations
When expectations dissolve what remains is freedom.
Life is whatever we make of it.
Sometimes, it feels or seems like there is some right and wrong way to be in the world.
There is a path that we should follow and a path that we shouldn’t.
But is there really?
With greater accuracy, it can be said that there are choices we make with consequences which we must bear.
Certain choices uplift life. Other choices don’t.
Moreover, certain choices have a weight to them depending on varying factors such as parental conditioning, cultural-conditioning, inherited pre-dispositions (addiction), and unknown factors.
For example, someone who grows up in an academic family may feel a subtle or not-so-subtle pressure to pursue that same life direction.
Though this individual is always free to choose, that freedom is often unconscious and hidden behind layers of anxiety such as the fear of letting people down or of being rejected by their family.
These fears and anxieties we carry are often un-recognised. We are so used to them that we cannot distinguish them from ourselves — the fear is felt as “me”.
One way to recognise the fears and anxieties which seem to blind us from our own freedom is to notice the should and shouldn’t that pop up in mind as a pull towards something and a push away from something else.
Expectations in Relationships
As an example common to those that grow up in western culture, there may be the “pull” to be in a relationship by a certain age and a “push” to not be single at that age.
The thing is, that even if you are in a relationship when these expectations or rigid “should” and “shouldn’t” are held in mind, there will still be fear. That inner fear doesn’t disappear when externalities change, instead, it just expresses itself in a different form.
Before, it expressed itself as the thought “When will I find someone to settle down with?” and now in the relationship, the fear will express itself as “what if I lose this person?” at the back of the mind.
In this way, the rigidity of believing that things have to be a certain way is a great obstacle to the enjoyment of life. Yet it is often reinforced every day every time we say to ourselves or someone else this “should” be like this or that “shouldn’t” be like that.
Whenever we believe in the story of what an ideal life looks like, we miss out on the beauty right in front of us in this moment. We put blinders on and cannot see the power which sustains our every breath. Moreover, the rigidity of expectations we carry in mind generates substantial fear and anxiety.
The mind then acclimatises and adapts to the fear. It just makes it normal and says “there will always be fear in relationships”. But this is a judgement devoid of curiosity to understand the fear.
Whenever the mind says something will “always” be this way, this is a projection of an expectation onto the future. In truth, the future is completely open and this exact moment holds incredible potential beyond what the mind can fathom in its limited processing capabilities.
Thus, it is very much worth it to discover any unconscious expectations or fears of the mind and dissolve them.
Truthfully, in just simply recognising “this is a fearful expectation”, that pattern begins to dissolve. The number one thing that keeps fearful patterns in place is ignorance. We often don’t recognise the pattern and ignorantly believe “this is just the way things are”. If ever that thought or feeling arises, this is a great hint of rigidity and fear.
Truly, life is what we make of it. The world we see is arising within our own mind and can change drastically in a single moment when we open up to that possibility. Grace is always available. If you are open to it, your perception of the world can change in a snap. The revelation of the highest truth of life is always available to those who are humble enough to recognise “maybe things aren’t as they seem to me” and courageous enough to open up to seeing things completely differently from what they are familiar with.
When patterns of mind are brought to the light of awareness, we have greater insight into ourselves and are able to discern “is this really what I want for me, or is this just a fearful pattern?”
As we consciously recognise a fearful pattern, it starts to lose its dominance and we begin to be able to see beyond it. It’s like when we mistake a stick for a snake. At first, we fear the seeming pattern of the snake but then, we look deeper for a moment and recognise that it’s just a stick.
Such is the case for all the rigidity and fear we carry within ourselves. As we start looking deeper, we see that it’s just a pattern of energy. Fear does not define what you are. No expectation can ever contain the majestic potential within you. You are that which allows for fear. You are that which allows for expectations. You don’t need expectations and fear to be but fear and expectation need you to be.
To “dissolve” meaning to allow the pattern to play out. Not to “make the pattern stop”. Not to change the pattern. But rather, to allow the pattern to fade out. As we compassionately embrace the pattern, it’s as though it melts in a warm hug.
This is similar to how worries disappear in the warm embrace of a loved one. Or how when we look at a cute puppy we can easily just forget everything and melt.
In that same sense, those fearful patterns can be melted in our welcome of them. When something is truly welcomed with open arms, it can longer be sustained. Fear sustains fear. What we usually do is just fear the fear or get annoyed and try to change it. That’s ok. It’s just a natural part of the mind. As we welcome this as well, it too melts in the warmth.
Compassion goes such a long way and yet is so undervalued. Whatever you love, will not persist. Whatever you resist, will persist. Try it out for yourself and see.
I share one way to dissolve fear and expectations which is very simple and direct in the Dissolve Unwanted Feelings Program below.
Thank you for reading.