My beloved returned from a week at Super Choices recently, excited, full of energy, on fire.
It was exciting to feel and share in his passion, his thoughts and excitement about the possibilities for his life and our future.
It could have been different.
My expectations could have lead me down the road to resentment and been the trigger that turned me off from being present to all the possibility his excitement represents.
Because… The thing is, I had been suggesting that he go for years. Every time I mentioned it though he would reply with something like, “Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know if that’s what I want. I’ll see about it.” And then, he has dinner with a friend he really respects and this guy suggests it and C.C. comes home and tells me he’s going.
Bam! Just like that. Expectations laid bare and resentment raises its ugly head.
And here’s what could have happened.
In having asked him about going for so long, and getting the response of “I don’t know…” resentment could have grown. My critter-mind could have gotten busy telling me that he should have said yes to me! I’m the one who’s been asking. Blah. Blah. Blah.
How come some dude who hasn’t known him anywhere near as long as I have and hasn’t been suggesting it for as long as I have and doesn’t know what he needs as well as I do, suggests it at dinner and Bam! Suddenly it’s a good idea?
Like Anne Lamott, Joe Davis, one of the facilitators at Choices knows a thing or two about expectations. He says, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”
Fact is, I wanted C.C. to go for me.
Fact is, he can’t go for me. He can’t even go for the friend who mentioned it at dinner. He can only go for himself. And that’s what he did.
Now, here’s the thing. My expectation and its companion resentment are all about me. All about what I want for me. Sure, in this case I wanted him to go because I was excited about how it could impact his life and our relationship. And, as long as I don’t attach any expectations on his experience and what he might feel, get, achieve, do, etc., my excitement for his going remains a noble desire for what we both have stated we want in our relationship; growth and possibility, intimacy and closeness…
However, attaching expectations changes everything from being a shared ‘noble desire’ to an ignoble resentment within me.
My expectations are made of my desire for him to go because I had ideas on what the outcome should be when he went.
My expectations are made of my vision for what he would experience, how he would be impacted, how he would respond.
And none of those expectations have anything to do with him. They have everything to do with me.
Because ultimately, if I stuck with wanting him to go because I asked him and feeling dischuffed because it was a friend’s voice he ‘listened to’ and not mine, I would be acting out from a place of feeling invisible, not good enough, not important enough for him to do it for me.
Consciously, I know I am good enough. I am worthy. I am visible and I matter to him.
But in the crazy-making land of the critter-mind, none of that matters. Critter-mind only wants me to hear how insignificant I am, and how it’s all the other person’s fault I feel the way I do. If they had just done what I asked, wanted, needed to feel like I was visible and cherished and important enough to listen to, I wouldn’t feel the way I do.
The land of the critter-mind is crazy-making.
Which is why it’s so important to not hold expectations of what another will experience. We do not and cannot control how they will respond, how they will react. We can only hold space to share in their responses, reactions, experience in a loving, accepting and caring way.
Critter-mind will always tell us it is ‘all about me’. It will always want us to try to control everything and everyone around us by expecting them to do what we want, when we want, how we want — so that we don’t feel afraid, less than, not good enough….
Fortunately, not giving into expectations of how another will respond or experience, leaves room for each of us to be accountable for our own journey. It also leaves space for the other to be accountable for theirs.
In that space, possibility expands, intimacy grows and hearts open up to the beauty and wonder of all that we are when we let go of our expectations of how everyone and everything should be.
In that space, the embers of expectations cannot find the air to flame up into a full blown firestorm of resentment. In that space, acceptance, gratitude and love create a sea of possibility for each of us to be the best expression of ourselves without fearing the other’s expectations of how we should be expressing ourselves and our experiences.
This blog post originally appeared on the Choices Seminar Website Blog, Sunday, April 24th, 2016.