One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments. Henry Ward Beecher
I don’t know why I had forgotten the power of the feeling of disappointment. How crushing! Like a boulder that crashes on a road, creating an explosion of negative thoughts, self-pity, anger, and sadness. Then comes the repetitive replaying of what went wrong. It goes on and on and on.
It’s amazing how much time is consumed in developing expectations. For me an exotic trip went down. Planning what to see, what to wear, money needed, where to go and what to do. Soliciting opinions from others about their experiences and of course sharing this excitement with family and friends added to the expectation. All of this became part of the preparation that increased the excitement.
Disappointment was knocking and I, the one who is looked upon to guide and counsel others, found myself opening the door to an unwelcomed visitor. I realized that I was creating a lot of what should happen. And all the expectations of what should happen formulated my thinking. BEWARE of SHOULDS.
Shoulds are like holding on to a dream as though it’s a reality. Shoulds come from a nest of guilt. If you don’t do what you “should” do you feel guilt. If you do what you think you should do, you feel resentment. Shoulds come from our values, religions, and standards for behavior. To overcome guilt and resentment, use the formula: I want to or I chose to. Dr. Paul Schenk cleverly describes how shoulds can be disruptive in life. Read his informative article here.
And what about expectations? When we fail at our internal expectations we feel sad and resentful. If your boss asks you to do an assignment after hours, you think, ‘you should do it’, yet there might be a secret resentment for losing sleep or of not being able to do what you want to do.
When you drop your expectations that a person, a situation, a place, or an object should fulfill you, it’s easier to be present in this moment because you’re no longer looking to the next one. Most people want to get what they want, whereas the secret is to want what you get at this moment.
– Eckhart Tolle
Guilt and resentment are knocking at the door. Do you open it?
When the door to disappointment is opened, and you face that which you didn’t want and quickly realized that slamming the door does not make a difference. The heart breaks and suffering begins.
5 things the Buddha would say about expectations:
- Watch for the seed of expectation (notice)
- Be mindful of this moment and the joy that comes without expectation
- Time is a mental construct – what the mind believes about time is not reality
- Cultivate patience and kindness with self and others
- Expect nothing, find gratitude in everything
I am now practicing to respond rather than react. It’s important to accept those choices beyond my control as a lesson and not a threat. A response that allows me to appreciate the only reality there is: the beauty of now. I look forward to opening the door. If disappointment is there, it’s a reminder that I can grow from it and I can chose what I want.
There’s a freedom that comes from responding rather than reacting. It doesn’t mean that you won’t create expectations (some dreams actually stretch us and improve our progress). When caught up in expectations, it is important to be compassionate with yourself. Practicing this creates freedom.
I now know that my expectations were exciting and the disappointment held me hostage. My freedom and desires are right now, not in the future. I move on, forget the past, and practice the gratitude in the moment. I am now planning my next trip. Enjoying the planning and the excitement, yet remembering that disappointment might be knocking.
If you would like to learn how to practice your sense of enjoying the beauty of the moment, call me.
You can listen to this post here.