Expectation is the subject of many spiritual conversations.
Buddhists believe that having no expectations is the key to a joyful life. Some new age paths state that in order to manifest, we need to visualize how it’s going to be.
Expectation is part of the human experience. To get excited or hopeful about something. To dream about how it will play out. To put faith in something yet unmanifested.
In every interaction on this planet, there is expectation. When I buy something in the store, the clerk expects me to pay for it. I in turn expect it to be fresh. When I put energy into a relationship, I expect reciprocal effort. When I have an employee, I expect them to show up for work. When I go to the mechanic, I expect to get my Jeep fixed.
Do these things always measure out 100% equal? No, of course not. However, expectation is not the enemy. Unrealistic expectation however is.
There is hope in expectation. The excitement of what will be. Where are we without looking forward to something? But so often as humans we ignore the nature of people and situations wishing for them to be something other than what they are. And this is where we get into trouble.
In spiritual circles, we are sometimes told to temper expectation.
To allow and to open to how things will manifest. We’re told not to put focus on the specifics. We are also told in order to manifest things, we need to dream of the possibility. So which is it? Well, it’s both.
Expectations need to be met with effort. When we dream, we need to follow the steps to realize that dream. When effort collaborates with expectation, manifestation occurs. For example, you want to be a doctor. Your expectation is to heal others. Your desire is to work in the hospital in your hometown. If you don’t put effort into it, your expectation stays a dream. But if you go to school, you can manifest your desire.
As well, we need to open and allow the unseen. There are great things in the works that we can’t always perceive or imagine, things that are not part of our expectations and plans. Allowing for these are what makes life exciting. If we always knew what was coming, where would the fun be in that? For example, you become a doctor but there are no jobs in the area you wish to work. So you take a job somewhere else that you previously hadn’t considered, and it changes your whole life. You get more money, there is greater opportunity, you meet fantastic friends. Things that you never would have planned manifest. Expectation, effort and allowing culminate in something amazing.
This is also an example of an expectation which is put on the self. But what about when we have expectations of others?
Some things we have a right to expect in our close relationships.
Safety. Trust. Honesty. Respect. Consideration. Time together. Intimacy. Connection. Compassion. Growth.
Your interaction with them should be a safe space. You shouldn’t have to beg for time together, feel unsafe opening up or feel that your feelings are not valid. This doesn’t mean that you always agree, but there has to be respect and understanding.
Answering back every text message after one minute, this is an unrealistic expectation. Having your partner “read your mind”, is not a realistic expectation. Hoping that you and your partner are always going to be in the same mindframe, is not a realistic expectation.
Having expectations doesn’t mean we’ll always receive them. Sometimes others can be in a place which can make it difficult for them to connect in the way that we need. However, your needs are important and it should be paramount that we pay attention when these needs are not being met. If it is usually very unbalanced, we need to be aware that our needs are regularly not being met.
When is expectation dangerous?
Fantasy can blur the lines with reality making expectations impossible to reach. This can mean we ignore red flags, see things in an unrealistic light or flat out refuse to see what’s in front of our faces. This kind of expectation can be dangerous and unhealthy, as it sets us up for a real fall. Sometimes we have to take off the rose colored glasses and see things as they are, not how we wish them to be. We have to see the patterns of the past and realize that sometimes things will keep repeating themselves, no matter our expectations or hope.
This can be very prevalent in relationships where there is unhealed wounds, unrealistic expectations, unhealthy boundaries or one person giving more than another. These can create a very unbalanced relationship.
We shouldn’t expect others to fulfill us or to be the ones to make us happy. That is our job. However, reciprocal relationships are healthy and necessary. If there is no give and take, the imbalance will eventually lead to a collapse in connection.
We can’t make others behave the way we want them to, nor should we desire to. We are each our own individual expression and with that comes a culmination of experiences and perceptions that is one of a kind. To try to control that diminishes the authenticity of the connection. But we need to be aware of our own needs and feelings enough to know when things are off key.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream big or ask for what we need.
Far from it. I’m saying there are some scenarios that are beyond our control and no matter how hard we try or what we expect, there is nothing we can do. Sometimes we need to walk away and refocus our expectations. Maybe we need to make new relationships or find a new mechanic. We need to be honest about our needs in the situation and how they are not being met. Then we are better able to put focus on how to authentically fulfil them.
Are you ready to stop settling for less in your relationships? Learn how here: Relationship Empowerment