Expectations and Letting Go

Coincidence, happenstance, karma……call it what you like, but when it happens it can certainly make you take a step back and think…hmm.

Conversations around the idea of people’s expectations come up quite often in therapy.  For some, it can be a significant underlying aspect of their struggles.  Becoming aware of those expectations and being able to let them go is part of the process of growth and healing.

So, the other day I had a session with a client where much of the hour was spent looking at the expectations she has for herself.  The ideas she has for her life and where she thinks she should be.  As we talked about letting go of expectations we focused on the skill of being present and accepting what is.  At the end of the session she seemed more aware of the expectations and was able to begin to let go.  She was my last client for the day…then off to yoga.

I arrive at my yoga class with about 15 minutes to spare.  The class fills up regularly, so I like to get there, find my space, and begin to let go of the day.  It’s a good class, great teacher…..I’m okay with it being full and not having a lot of personal space to really spread out.  After all, this is my practice.  We’ve all adjusted our mats to accommodate the maximum number of participants allowed.  Then, right when class should begin, we’re asked to be patient and make room for 2 more.  What?  Are you serious?  It’s time for class to start and we are filled to the brim…2 more people?  I have to admit, I found myself beginning to feel annoyed, if not agitated.  As we begin the practice in seated meditation, I feel myself struggling to be present.  All the thoughts of what this class is suppose to be….on time, max of 20 people, adults (there was a child in the class)…raced through my mind, hence the annoyance and agitation.  Don’t get me wrong, I like people and children  🙂 .

Then, suddenly it hit me…wow, talk about expectations and needing to let go!  I actually kind of laughed at myself.  So…hmm, what did I need to learn?  My annoyance wasn’t about the extra people or starting a little late, it was that the actual experience and the expectation I had for what the class should be didn’t exactly match.  What I recognized is…the changes in the class didn’t really have any impact on my practice.  The extra people, shorter amount of time…none of it mattered.  I still had the same practice as I would have had those aspects not been there.  Well, except for my annoyance, but that had nothing to do with the class, just my rules and expectations 🙂 .

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6 comments on “Expectations and Letting Go”

  1. Peggy, that story made me happy and sad. I totally agree with you, and my expectations not matching reality has ruined a lot of things in my life, but I definitely am aware of it more because of you. Sad because I can see you laughing at yourself and I miss you, still. I think I'll always miss you a little bit. Anyway, the best thing is awareness. Thank you for teaching me that.

  2. Barbara ~ Thank you for your comment....I appreciate your participation! I agree with your thought about awareness....it is such a crucial part of being able to change and grow :-). And, it is great to be able to laugh at yourself! 🙂

  3. Peggy, I have been in many situations like this, but have not thought of them this way. Thank you for posting this, it helps me to realize that so many others are feeling or thinking this way, and yet it has to do with our expectations. What a great lesson. I have to agree with Barb that it has ruined many outcomes because of my expectations of a situation. I guess we all have to realize if we open ourselves up to the unexpected, our expectations will lessen and we will find ourselves more open to the opportunities available to us.

  4. Tracy ~ thank you for your comment. It can be very helpful to know you are not alone in your thoughts and/or feelings. I'm glad you found the post helpful.

  5. Just had to share: Today as are all fridays is my free day. No school and I try to set everything aside and focus on what I feel like doing. Unfortunately, the plumber was scheduled to come fix our tub, which I might add that he has been working on since January 6th (first time he finally showed up). He was schedule to show up at 3:00. I was here waiting as I was all the other times he was to show up and didn't. At 4:00 I decided that he was probably not going to show up, and since I have plans tonight I began getting myself ready early. My son came in from school about that time, and although I was a bit upset that he had again not shown up and we are still having a problem with our tub, I was not going to let it ruin my evening. Just as I was leaving to take my son to pick up a few things at the store at 4:20, the plumber arrived. He asked why I was leaving and I stated that I would return shortly but had to take my son somewhere. I also knew that he would be working in the unit below me for a bit before he actually entered my place. He made a comment to me: "Well I need to get started on this, it's getting late". I replied that I would be right back and proceeded to leave. The first thing out of my mouth to my son was "he really has the nerve to say that to me" I found myself extremely irritated and it kept stirring in my mind. As I stopped at the gas station to get gas, and headed to the store, I suddenly decided that I would have to let my son go to the store himself.....not what I wanted to do....but I let his comment get to me.

    My expectation that he would show up on time and not ruin my plans for the evening were just that. I don't know why I thought it would be any different this time than the other times. I allowed him to control my mood plummeting me to a place I didn't want to be. I have had a great day and because of my expectation....my mood seems to be altered. It wasn't until I got back home and was able to quietly think about this situation that I decided that I would not let him ruin my evening.

    Peggy, you posting this has helped me to realize that sometimes our expectation are not a bad thing, and that sometimes someones inability to follow through with what they are suppose to do can cause us to feel a bit uncomfortable not only with ourselves but with what is necessary to make the situation better.

    In the time I have before going out tonight, I will resolve this with myself. My tub may or may not get fixed tonight, but I guess I have to be strong and let him know that he will have to return the next morning to complete the work. I have been more than patient since this problem began in mid December.

  6. Beautiful. It is so important to know that there is healing after sexual assault! I am a rape survivor and have a book coming out next month! I just srtated a blog...Check me out!

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