We all have them, these sneaky things called expectations. We have them in every way, every day, realistic ones, foolish ones, and even those which we haven’t yet had the courage to acknowledge exist. Some expectations are practical, such as working with the expectation of receiving a paycheck, but others, well, they can cause us indescribable amounts of pain and anguish if allowed to go unchecked.
I was involved in some deep suffering the other day (of which INFJ’s such as myself are quite prone), struggling inwardly with my sense of injustice and disharmony, when suddenly it occurred to me that much of my suffering was stemming from a place of unmet expectations. My focus had shifted from that which I can control, such as my own actions, beliefs, and ability to create beautiful things, onto the parts and pieces of life over which I have no sway. I was placing my ideals upon the actions of outside forces and people, expecting things from them which they were not capable of fulfilling.
In that moment I realized that though my expectations were rooted in good and beautiful things, I was doing nothing short of paralyzing myself by continuing to hope for things that, though lovely, may never pan out. It was as if I continually punished myself with disappointment by knowingly expecting better from people who had already proven they were unreliable, or even by expecting things from myself that I could not reasonably accomplish without causing a massive amount of stress or pain in the process. I was the cause of my own suffering and I determined it must end.
This realization came after spending about 6 weeks of practicing daily meditation, affirmations, and communal with God through a 100 Day Gong commitment I had chosen. The time of quiet contemplation each day had begun to open my eyes to a greater reality, one that spoke to the oneness of all things, one that shifted my perspective from focusing on my laundry list of expectations to one that became more sensitive to the beauty that comes when we live from a place of appreciation.
Yes, that was the key to my freedom, the magic bullet to end my suffering. Dwelling on all of the things in my life that are good, beautiful, alive and well, all the people who are good and kind, all of the small blessings that so easily go unnoticed, these things warrant my appreciation. They cry out for it, and when I deny them their due, misery sets in and bleeds the joy from my very bones.
There is no denying that life is unfair, we each have so many trials, too much pain, and far more challenges than we can count, but when we choose to focus on those things they become giants, gaining power in our lives and stealing from us the most precious of gifts. The gifts that seem so obvious, the ones that sit right in front of us, silently waiting for acknowledgment, pleading for our attention. I choose to see these things. I choose to let go of my expectations and live from a place of appreciation. I choose to focus on that which is good and lovely. I choose joy.