After a fun, full day in San Francisco, I’m up at 2am on a Saturday thinking about change. While it is true that things change, I’m inspired to say that we experience pain because we fail to realize that our expectations change. We anticipate future outcomes (i.e. illusions) based on our expectations. These desired future outcomes are simply what we want to happen. When the actual outcome doesn’t match what we expected, we suffer. We’re disappointed, upset, hurt, etc. because our made up future did not come true.

Let’s take an example. You’re dating someone and he doesn’t call when you expect him to…disappointment. You work through that and get engaged, but he doesn’t help you with the wedding planning as you expected him to…frustration. After working through that, you get married, but he doesn’t manage money the way you expected him to…anger.

In that example, did he really change? Or were your expectations changing and not being met? From my vantage point, there was an escalation in expectations as things got more serious (and possibly an escalation in your emotional response). I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but we went from expecting him to call at a certain time to expecting him to be a financial planner.

This works the opposite way, as a man might expect a woman to show up on time (looking flawless) when dating…worry about the details of an engagement…and then (somehow) manage to have a professional career and raise children after marriage (while still being on time and flawless haha). We went from expecting her to show up on time to expecting her to be the world’s greatest mother….another clear escalation in expectations.

Wherever you feel resistance (or negative emotions) in your life, it’s tied to your reality not meeting your expectation. Your manager was supposed to appreciate your hard work. Your children were supposed to pick up all of their toys before bedtime. Your day at work was supposed to have been drama free. The highway wasn’t supposed to be undergoing construction on your way home. These frustrations are a result of your desired outcome not matching reality. This is all based on your expectations about what the future was supposed to be. 

The only way to effectively deal with all of this resistance is to first take a step back. Evaluate your emotions and recognize the expectation that was at the root of the situation (what did you expect to happen in a given situation?). Understand that life is not about you getting what you always want (haha!). There is a bigger picture. And despite everything that you feel should be happening, the Universe (God, the Creator, however you’d like to call the Source) knows better than you. And you must have faith that even though you don’t understand it, everything is happening for your highest good…and for the highest good. And as a friend of mine suggested, remind yourself that you don’t really know what’s going on.

Loosen the reigns on your laundry list of expectations. Recognize that there is always more to the story that just what you want. And then move on….otherwise you will remain stuck in a negative and toxic space. As always, it’s your choice ;)

Photo source: Head first – Autumn Leaves