What do you expect?

Laura ShreckBoth expectations and memories are more than mere images founded on previous experience.

– Samuel Alexander 

Expectation is a tricky subject in the arena of personal and spiritual development. For some people who have devoted their lives to what might be considered a spiritual path, the word “expectation” is virtually profane.

Those people believe it is best to live completely and totally without expectations, of any kind. Many of them have convinced themselves that it is actually possible. If this particular belief system makes them authentically happy, then I say “Wonderful!”

I also say, “Good luck with that.”

You see, whether we like it or not, we remain human for as long as we are human. While we are certainly capable of changing thought patterns, adopting new attitudes, and adjusting our perspectives, we cannot change the fact that there are certain aspects of being human that cannot be changed. Regardless of how “evolved” we might consider ourselves to be, we cannot completely obliterate unconscious content; we cannot entirely erase the influence of repeated experience; and we cannot avoid logical conclusions, when logic is applied. Moreover, we cannot always dodge the effects of ordinary brain function.

At it’s most basic level, expectation is a form of subjective prediction. Recent brain function studies have shown us that our brains want to predict. Sensory processing and behavioral responses based upon subjective predictions are well recognized components of normal brain function. So, it seems, that some amount of expectation is an unavoidable part of being human.

To me, therefore, the question isn’t “should we or should we not have expectations.” It is “what are we going to do about those expectations we have.”

You’ve heard me use the term positive expectation. For me, positive expectation is an important part of how I see the world and how I live my life. My positive expectations are built upon my core belief that, whatever happens, things are going to work out in a way that is for my overall good and the good of the whole, in the long run. Based upon this core belief, I look for the good in Life; and I expect the good in Life. As such, I find myself receiving more and more good, all the time. But that does not mean I am never temporarily disappointed by an unexpected outcome. While disappointment is a feeling I choose not to hold on to; it is a feeling that passes through me, from time to time. I suspect that it is the same for most people, regardless of the type or amount of expectations they have.

I believe that lasting happiness depends upon understanding our expectations, adjusting our expectations when appropriate, and letting go of any negativity that arises within us when our expectations are not satisfied. Relationships will sometimes fail. The best laid plans will not always guarantee a specified result. The path we choose might not lead to where we want to go. And people will often behave in quite unexpected ways. These are realities of Life and living that we cannot change. What we can change, however, is what it is that we expect and what we do with unsatisfied expectations.

When someone’s conduct hurts our feelings, we can stop and ask ourselves, “What did I expect?” and “Why did I expect it?” We can evaluate the expectations as objectively as we may and try to determine how the expectation led to our feelings being hurt. Based upon what we find in this self-inquiry, we can determine what, if anything, needs to be adjusted. Is it the relationship or our expectations that needs to change? Were we expecting something unrealistic out of a particular situation? Is the expectation a reflection of something we truly desire in our hearts, regardless of whether or not it is “realistic?” Can our feelings about the situation be adjusted by altering our expectations or would it be better to change the situation to meet our expectations?

All of these questions are questions that help us understand what we want and need, if we are going to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Today, I want to encourage you to give some consideration to your expectations. Spend some time thinking about those areas of your life in which you have certain expectations. Identify your expectations and evaluate them as honestly as you can. Are your expectations being satisfied? Are they adding something of value to your life or are they hindering your ability to create and maintain your own happiness? Which expectations feel like healthy expectations and which ones might you let go because they no longer serve you?

If you follow this suggestion and be gentle with yourself in the process, I can assure you that something is going to change within you and within your life. Dealing with expectations is a necessary part of the transformation process; and, although it is not always an easy part of the process, it is one of the most effective tools we have for creating our own happiness.

© 08/01/2013

Photo by Laura Shreck

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15 Comments

  1. Beacon of Aquarius

     /  August 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Beacon of Aquarius and commented:
    Posted by Beacon of Aquarius August 1 2013

    Reply
    • Thank you for the reblog, Jim! Enjoy the upcoming weekend! Many blessings, S

      Reply
      • Beacon of Aquarius

         /  August 2, 2013

        Welcome Sloan..of course 🙂 thank you…yes looking forward to the weekend…received 🙂

  2. As always a wise piece of advice from you Sloan.. I learn so much from you.. thank you for sharing.. Love to you.. Shauna

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Shauna. And thanks for your kind compliments. Have a really great day and a fantastic weekend! Love & Light, S

      Reply
  3. Great insight, Sloan! Enjoy your day.

    Reply
  4. Professions for PEACE

     /  August 2, 2013

    Thank you Sloan for this excellent reminder. What are my expectations? It is good to remember to look into the future and see how we feel about it. It reminds me of Wayne Dyer speaking about ‘working from the end’ by picturing ourselves where we want to be, and working back to the present, and addressing the steps that need to be taken.
    Thank you for sharing your shining light and wisdom here. 🙂
    Love and Blessings,
    Gina

    Reply
    • Well said, Gina! Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing your insightful comments. Love, Light, and Many Blessings to you too! S

      Reply
  5. Always such helpful and gentle words, as usual, Miss Sloan. I love how your words allow us to be human, yet at the same time, learn how to work with our humanness. If that is even a word. Heh.

    On an unrelated note, I tried emailing you from the email address on your gravatar and it bounced back to me. I’d like to discuss one of the things on your list when you asked for help (re: your book). If you’d like to, you can contact me from the email on my gravatar.

    Reply
    • Lori, I’m so glad you enjoyed it; and thank you for your kind words. I must have forgotten to change the gravitar email address when my old account was hacked. In any event, my current email address is sloan1932@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. Love & Light, S

      Reply
  6. On a slight tangent, I’m come to not trust my thoughts (expectations in this case) about situations as much as I did in the past. Thank you for the wonderful post and thank you for reminding me about what my journey is.
    Drew

    Reply
    • Drew, we are need reminders of what we already know, from time to time. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope to see you back soon! Many Blessings, S

      Reply
  7. Your post fits in exactly with my mindset at the moment – to stop limiting myself and stop limiting God and to start expecting more.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Carolyn. I believe you are on to something there. I say, “Go with it!” Have a beautifully blessed day, Earth Angel! S

      Reply

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