Last week I posted about shift happens and I am experiencing it now in a wonderfully personal way and so I thought it appropriate to share about following the bliss, not the expectations. Why? Because expectations are stories we believe about how others should behave. Oh boy do I know about this one because I'm always telling myself "Kenya, everyone is not you. They don't think the way you do so don't expect the same thing thinking/behaviors from others. Let them be them and me be me." Trust me, it is something I have to constantly work on. With no expectations, there can be no disappointment, only enjoying life as it is and the people in it.
Can We Just Learn to Agree?
Listen to this, "I expect you to keep your room clean!" Imagine yourself hearing those words. A knot forms in your stomach. Your throat tightens a little. Your chest feels like someone is pushing on it. You begin to mentally push back because people rebel against expectation. Let me be specific here when I say people, children. Parenting this way is never fun and I have experienced it enough. I have a teenager and when I push hard and use words like expect, my 13 year old's body language completely shifts and I can tell he doesn't like my approach. Of course, he doesn't always have to like it since I'm the parent and he's the child but sometimes there is a better way.
That's why creating agreements is much more effective. No expectations, just agreements. As parents, we live in a constant state of anger and anxiety when we expect so much from our children and talk about the anxiety and pressure it puts on our children. Wow! It can be too much/overwhelming for them and we don't always realize this! My son has gotten to the point when I tell him something to do, he simply responds with "okay." I'm like "Where is the feeling?" or "Is that it? Is that all he has to say." I can tell he is basically OVER IT so I have to catch myself and make agreements with him instead and when they are solid, they work/stick.
When I was married, there were unspoken expectations that we had for one another. So we were in a constant state of disappointment because we didn't make agreements. You know I once read that we should not expect but rather hope. For example, in a new romantic relationship, there shouldn't be expectations but rather hopes. Hopes that his actions are in alignment with his words. Hopes that he treats me good. No expectations so that if he doesn't do the things I hope for, there isn't the automatic disappointment. Easier sad than done but when the mind is open, it shifts!
Don't Be Controlled
People are controlled by expectations...there own and those of others. It keeps them from ever growing into who they could be. Happy, creative and free. Most people (and when I say most people, I'm not saying I'm different, I'm talking about myself for most of my life! So, when I say "most people," don't think I'm looking down at others- they're me!)...so, most people live desperate lives based on expectation. They wake up in the morning and they put their sensors out and ask themselves subconsciously, "What do people expect of me today?" and then they try to live up to all that. It becomes a life run totally by other people's expectations. Or the imagined expectations of others. What does my boss expect? What does my partner expect? What do my kids expect?
If I spend all my time trying to live up to others' expectations, it's a no-win situation. Because I can never fully do it. They'll just keep adding more expectations. Not only that--if I'm living my life based on living up to other people's expectations, I will sink down my ladder and live all day in the low, slow gear of resentment.
I will always resent, subconsciously, the people whose expectations I'm trying to live up to. I mean really, who are they? Deep down I know this spirit of mine that says, "Who are they? Who are they to have me try to live up to their expectations all day? Do I never get my independence? Do I never get to be my own person?
If I spent my life trying to impress other people and win them over, when would there be time to serve anyone? Would they pay me for winning them over? Or for serving them well? Which of those two activities do people value the most?
Winning people over in my family is also a non-productive pursuit. Why am I trying to anticipate the mercurial mood shifts of other human beings? Why do I always try to "heal" their most irrational moments?
My mind caves in when I do this. Soon I'm thinking Oh, no they're in a mood, what did I do? I better do something to put them in a good mood!!!! What do they expect?
That's such a frustrating life. Instead, I want to serve! I just want to love and enjoy people!
"Follow the bliss" was a famous prescription by Joseph Campbell but people have misapplied that advice. They have used "Follow your bliss" to be a kind of modern narcissistic rallying call to indulge yourself, make yourself feel good for now, let everyone else go hang. That's not really what it means. When you truly and deeply follow your bliss, you will be in the highest service to others. The two go together!
If anything I've shared resonated with you or you have blog topic recommendations, I welcome you to leave a comment below.
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