It seems everyone is talking about expectations lately. In the June issue of Oprah’s magazine, Brene Brown counsels us to “reality-check our expectations because they can lead to low self-esteem.” Cheryl Sandberg tells women to lean in to the leadership table and “dismantle the internal barriers holding us back today.” A number of executive coaches weigh in on LinkedIn to the question: What do you think holds you back from more happiness and success in your career? Of course, expectations are a topic in the ensuing dialog.
There is only one thing to understand about expectations – they are all made from the same stuff — thought. Our expectations for ourselves and others’ expectations for us are only as real and as powerful as we make them. We put energy into them or we don’t. We pay attention to them or we ignore them. We see them for what they are or we don’t. With understanding, we see them for what they are more quickly.
I recently heard that some languages don’t have a word for “should,” usually a key component in any expectation. The internal version — I should weigh this much, I should make x amount of money, I should have been promoted by now, I should be treated one way or another. And the external version – you should, they should, mothers should, children should.
Having a discussion about the content of expectations is not the answer. It’s not what you think, it’s the realization that you think. It’s becoming more conscious of the fact that:
We create our experience of life through our thinking.
We live in the perceptions and feelings that we create.
We have an unlimited potential for new thought.
So the only thing that keeps us stuck is the misunderstanding that we have no other options. When we realize we have free will to recognize, consider, and let go of any expectations (thought) that are not helpful, we see the unlimited potential that is always available to us.