Fleet Maull said in a recent seminar, “Expectations are planned resentments.”
Maull coined the term radical responsibility, “It is not about blame; it’s about ownership and self-empowerment, owning our circumstances and our choices.”
As I sat in the seminar, a flood of recent expectations came rushing into pure awareness. I know firsthand to limit expectations to dodge being let down over and over. Yet, hearing the words “planned resentments” clarified the feelings of disappointment that many times transpire. Another great spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle expressed the similar theory:
“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.”
Let us take time to ponder how we can pivot from having expectations to communicating that which we desire.
1. Wanting more responsibility at work, however it never seems to manifest and there is a feeling of Groundhog Day when days and weeks run together in pure boredom and routine. How about coming up with a new project or task and propose to management? I thought I would never be able to balance work and my passion to share well-being. I put together a proposal to offer “wellness weeks” with fun interactive daily suggestions and bam—management said yes. I have fun sharing and my co-workers feel inspired to live healthier.
2. Fuming at a friend that never reaches out to make plans, leaving feelings of unbalance in the relationship. Suggest the following, “I really enjoy spending time together and would love it if we can brainstorm our next adventure together.” By asking to plan together, the vibe will be more balanced. And if there is no interest from the other party, maybe it is time to spend time with some other friends.
3. Longing for more of a connection with family. Relationships are a two way street, take a moment to give a call, write a letter or suggest a family outing with a relative not seen in a while. Over the holidays, I personally made more of an effort to reach out to cousins that I used to have such a strong bond with, it felt good to reconnect and have some belly laughs over childhood times.
4. Desiring that someone would do an extra special deed to uplift our spirits and then entering into a “woe is me” state feeling as if nobody loves us. Tolle also speaks of the “I,” “Me” and “Mine” story that we tell. “There is no ‘I’ apart from our thought processes and the emotions that go with them. This is the meaning of being spiritually unconscious. When told that there is a voice in our head that never stops speaking, we say, ‘What voice?’ or angrily deny it, which of course is the voice, the thinker, the unobserved mind. It could almost be looked upon as an entity that has taken possession of them.” In this situation, when feelings arise of others not doing for us, we can focus on our own personal self-care. When we take care of ourselves as if we are most important, the feelings of needing others to uplift us, diminish.
5. Feelings of being lost in the day to day hustle and bustle, swirling in self-pity of how hard it is to get through the day. The pivot in this scenario is to volunteer for those less fortunate to bring awareness to all the good in our lives. I was reminded of this when I visited an African village and the pure joy on the faces of the children when I handed out pieces of ginger candy. It was as if I had given each of them a million dollars. We could ponder all of our blessings, as we all have more than we can count. It is not the happy people that are grateful; it’s the grateful people that are happy.
Reducing our expectations of others will be an on-going practice of patience with us and others. Move forward in grace and ease as each moment presents itself looking for ways of self-empowerment. As Mother Teresa said, “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”
Author: Kerry Elam
Editor: Travis May