I've had to deal with a host of disappointments lately, and -- truth be told -- it's all my own fault.
"All of it?" you ask. Yep, pretty much. Because the disappointments didn't come from the actual events, situations, or people... they came from my expectations.
We all have expectations -- ideas about what's going to happen, how we're going to feel, and the manner in which the events of our lives will unfold. We also have expectations of others -- assumptions about how they will act, speak, and respond. In addition, we have expectations about the world around us -- how our environments (e.g., home, work) will help to support us in fulfilling whatever it is we decide to do.
Even though we may have been taught that expectations are the seeds of disappointment, we still have them. Expectations create a natural sense of organization and balance, and the mind loves having this knowledge. As human beings we crave certainty, consistency, and reliability.
So how do we deal with the world around us when it doesn't cooperate? What happens when people don't act the way we want them to? How do we cope with change, find our "happy place," and not let it ruin the party?
We learn to allow.
Science tells us for every action there is a reaction. And even though our powerful thoughts and imagination can take us in many directions -- into the past or future -- only the present moment holds our true power. In the present moment we choose our attitude and how to respond to the world around us.
Upon further examination, perhaps our disappointments don't come from our expectations as much as our lack of patience and the inability to wait and see how things will play out. With time and practice we can learn to develop patience for the process, and develop an understanding that can help us to go with the flow. This is allowing -- an acceptance of things as they are.
Sometimes a missed opportunity becomes a blessing in disguise. Have you ever looked back on a past disappointment and realized the situation turned out exactly the way it needed to? Foresight can be 20/20, too.
This week as you are waiting for something to happen, pay attention to your expectations and ask yourself these questions:
1) What is this experience teaching me?
2) How can I learn to be more patient and trust the process, regardless of the outcome?
3) And here's the kicker: How can I develop a higher tolerance for ambiguity and be comfortable not knowing when, how, or even if something will turn out as expected?
Then the next time you're faced with a different result than you'd originally planned, practice the art of allowing. Just breathe and let it go... and eventually the disappointment will fade. And it won't need to ruin your party -- even without a pony.
Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life today.
Photo: Me & my Grandma at Paul Bunyan Amusement Park, Bemidji, MN