Day 59 - Expecting, Yielding & Merging.
Expectations. Feels like I am full of them. All the time. I have expectations of me, you, people at work, society, the world. I don’t know where they come from, I guess my head, and sometimes my heart but I have them and they kinda tend to rule my life if I let them.
I can also say that I have a way. This is not something that seems to have developed over time, I just have always had a way. This innate true north inside me that says in a loud voice:
IT SHOULD BE LIKE THIS
IT SHOULD BE DONE THIS WAY
NOT LIKE THAT, LIKE THIS
It has made life harder...for me, for everyone around me.
We can call it control issues. We can call it neurosis. We can call it organization. All of those titles would be accurate on some level. However, none of these explanations gets to the heart of what is going on with me. It isn’t just that I want to control everything. That is not accurate. I do not want to control everything. I just need things to be a certain way to feel secure and safe. What needs to be controlled today is far less than what I used to have to keep tamped down so I can see growth there. I am neurotic. It is just a fact of life. I feel pretty in the middle on the neurotic spectrum so not too bad in this department either. I am highly organized but way less so than I used to be. Since I had kids, went back to work and became a single parent, I do not have endless hours to spend organizing and labeling my shoe collection. Dammit.
What I am getting at here is that I think we all come equipped with this hard wired set of expectations about ourselves, those about us and the world at large. We have these ideas about how we are going to be treated, how we deserve to be treated, and what things we can come to expect in this life. Here is the kicker - I have no idea what these expectations are based upon. I mean not a clue. I do not know where they came from, how they came to be such a requirement in my life and sometimes, I cannot loosen the grip and extricate myself from them. They drive my emotions, behavior and sometimes lead me careening off emotional cliffs and I have no idea why.
I have heard it said that expectations are premeditated resentments. I have found this to be true. Seriously. But how am I supposed to get rid of these ideas that tend to rule my life when I have no idea where they came from to begin with. Here are a few especially ridiculous ones:
I have an expectation that my children are going to pick up after themselves...willingly.
Complete madness! I know no one on earth who has children who do this. I have not one friend that has said to me:
“Ya know, my kids are killing it. They cleaned the whole house without being asked for two months now. Did their own laundry and cleaned up the kitchen. I told them they should go to a movie but they insisted on helping around the house first.”
Said no one ever.
So why do I expect that they are going to be different? I know it is ludicrous. However, at times, I behave in such a way that my expectations (ridiculous though they may be) kinda ruin my relationship with my kids. I allow that. I let that happen despite all evidence to the contrary that I am a crazy person to even entertain the thought.
I have an expectation that people in California are going to understand the whole yielding concept on the freeway. They don’t. Never have. I have lived all over the place and never in my life have I seen a society so baffled by a freeway sign. To the residents of the great state of California: You do NOT have a God given right to enter on the freeway when there is other traffic already speeding down said freeway. You have to wait until it is safe to enter. Merging does NOT mean hurry up and get up to speed and all the other cars will create a space for your entry. You have to YIELD to the already present traffic and then merge! Yet, still I expect that people are going to get the concept...sometimes to my own detriment and at the expense of my vehicles’ well being.
There are literally hundreds of examples I could use here of all the completely absurd ideas I have about the way things should be, the way tasks should be accomplished and how life should go. Every one of these ideas comes with a firm conviction and idealistic attitude. Every one of them comes from a place that I cannot identify. I just believe them to be true and act accordingly.
Lately, I have been calling into question my expectations and asking myself hard questions like:
Why do I think that?
Is that really likely to happen?
Why do you expect that?
I have to admit I am often stymied. Actually paralyzed with why my expectations are often so far afield from what my logical and rational mind knows to be accurate. I have been able to unpack this to a degree but feel like I have a long way to go and a lot of heavy lifting.
Here is what I have come to: I think all of us come hardwired with ideas, beliefs and expectations that are given to us, created by us and used against us to keep the flame alive. I think my expectations are the things that keep me interested in my life. They are things I can throw around to spruce things up in my life when I am feeling like life is kind of a grind and not so much fun. For me, they really serve no other purpose than to distract me, temporarily, from reality.
So I am trying to channel all of my many expectations into just one expectation - the expectation that I can just expect anything to happen at any time. Anything is possible. People can show up for me or they can let me down. I can do a stellar job of parenting or I can be a real bitch. My kids can do what kids normally do (as little as possible) or they can delight and surprise me by helping out without being threatened within an inch of their lives. It is really all up for grabs. Anything can happen and when I am not working nose to the grindstone expecting certain things to happen, it is all wide open for anything to happen.
I realize that because I have insisted and expected things to be a certain way, I have gotten exactly what I expected - to be let down and disappointed a lot. Today my goal for the entire day is to release expectations that get in my way and just allow my life to unfold. To expect nothing but the unexpected. To allow. Now my grinder of a day seems so much lighter and more spacious. I have room to breathe and time to take. I might even not lose my shit when someone fails to yield then merge onto the freeway correctly this morning. Wait, that is another expectation! See what I mean?
My life is replete with ideas that fast become expectations and those expectations are usually designed to make me miserable now about something that hasn’t even happened yet! Fuck it. Today I am going to just allow people to merge as they will, children to do exactly what they are going to do and I am going to do my best to laugh along the way.
Dammit - there I go expecting again! But what I know about myself is that I can create new expectations all the time. I do it anyway. But now I can do it with intentionality. When I see that I have an expectation that is ruining my life or day or moment, I can just decide to expect something else. Viola! I am in a new place and heading in a new direction. I can yield to my own beliefs and merge those beliefs with reality. That seems like the proper manner to deal with these pesky expectations. Well, it is all I can think to do...for now.