As much as we try to avoid them, we all have them.
The challenge is that sometimes we don’t know it.
By the way, I’m talking about expectations, not pimples, although expectations do have a problematic way of popping up, especially when it comes to careers.
Are you where you thought you’d be by this point in your life? Are you where you think you should be by this point in your life?
Rather than answer those questions, hold that image – the image that expresses your ideas of where you thought you’d be – or where you thought you should be – by now.
Do these ideas involve a certain income level? Furniture? Accolades and recognition? Spouses and children? Pets?
I don’t know about you, but when I stop and do this, I come up with all kinds of things I don’t particularly want or care about, like couches with big pouffy pillows and a car-pool.
How did these things get on my list of expectations?
I could blame the media, but that’s so obvious. Anyway, if you think about it, the media is only one of our world’s many expectation – delivering mechanisms. We’ve also got parents, family, friends, teachers, bosses, religious institutions and more.
We receive gazillions of messages every day about what we should want, what we should do, how we should dress, what we should eat for dinner, do after dinner and more.
And that’s fine. Well, maybe not fine, but it’s not the onslaught of expectations that’s the problem.
It’s when some of those expectations get past your defenses and embed themselves in your psyche without you knowing it that things get tricky.
When an unexamined expectation gets loose in your brain, it’s like a bat in your house, swooping and diving around and activating all kinds of irrational fears.
For example, I seem to have a couch with big pouffy pillows stuck in my hair.
It’s like a stealth desire or Manchurian objective… something you don’t want but that you feel bad if you don’t have.
We all have our own unintended expectations. Yours might lean more towards record contracts than big pouffy pillows, but hopefully you catch my drift. You might not want that recording contract any more than I want furniture, but the lack of it is still pinging away inside you.
Guess what? You can liberate yourself from these feelings. Just as the bat doesn’t actually want to be nose-diving around your living room, if you’re harboring desires that really aren’t yours, you can get rid of them.
The first step is to call them out by name – On Dasher! On Blitzen!
O.K., those aren’t names for bats, let alone expectations, but again, I hope you get my point – we all need to name our obscure objects of desire in order to determine whether or not they’re fit subjects for our pursuit.
And if they’re not, we can just let them go – like a bat, a pimple, or a big pouffy pillow.
by Danielle Dresden