“Peace begins when expectation ends”. Sri Chinmoy
I have been thinking a lot recently about expectations. It occurs to me that the expectations that I had as a child, and the expectations that I helped to facilitate in my own children are vastly different. Let’s start with birthday parties for example. In my childhood, birthday parties were held at the birthday child’s house. The kids just came and played, nobody arranged too much. If you were lucky you had a game of “pin the tail on the donkey”. You were fed boiled hot dogs; yes you read that correctly, I did say ‘boiled’. And this was considered a treat.
Your mother made a homemade cake. My mother was famous for her lopsided cakes; one side of the cake was inevitably at least an inch higher than the other. And the big surprise that replaced treat bags, was that you might find a ‘nickel or a dime’ wrapped in wax paper in your piece of cake. My children’s parties were events, in comparison. They consisted of Clowns, Laser tag, Chuckie Cheese, Swimming, Indoor playgrounds, rented hot-tubs and waterslides. Complete with overflowing treat bags.
When I grew up, vacations were rare if they happened at all. Summer was spent outside playing, and that was your vacation. My husband and I ensured that we had a family vacation every year. Even if it was a camping trip, we took a family vacation.
Maybe it is true that every generation tries to provide more for the next. Of this, I am not sure. In my case, I know that I tried to give them more material things than I had. More experiences, more education and more one-on-one attention. I told them they could do, be and have anything they wanted if they worked hard enough and I do truly believe this. They didn’t ask for these things, we gave them this freely. But I have to wonder if I gave them the right idea or even enough information about setting expectations.
Most of my generation graduated high school, and figured it out from there. The majority of kids I knew did not have post-secondary educations arranged or paid for. They finished high school and were just expected to move out, and figure it out. We created our expectations as we went along. We didn’t start out with them. And our expectations grew and grew, and we shared these expectations with our kids.
Now I am watching these young people with wonderful educations, come out of school and start life out with a set of expectations that may or may not be realistic in their current environments. Through no fault of their own, the environment that they graduate in has changed underneath them. They developed an expectation of what life would look like after they graduated, and unfortunately things are vastly different. And it is painful for them, and they are losing hope. But the reality is, we set them up with high expectations but we didn’t give them enough coaching around them. We need to add a little reality to the expectations that we helped them to develop. And when I was thinking about this, I happened upon the best possible advice that we forgot to tell them.
“What’s the first sign of a lurking, hidden expectation you didn’t know you had? Pain! People don’t do what we want, things don’t happen quickly enough, the weather doesn’t cooperate, our bodies don’t cooperate. Why are these moments so painful? Because our minds are focused on a static, unchanging, me-centric picture while the dynamic unfolding of a broader life continues around us. There is nothing wrong with expectations per se, as it’s appropriate to set goals and work, properly, towards their fruition. But the instant we feel the pain over life not going “my way”, our expectations have clearly taken an improper turn. Any moment you feel resistance or pain, look for and then let go of the hidden expectations. Practice giving yourself over to what “you” don’t want. Let the line at the store be long. Let the other person interrupt you. Let the nervousness make you shake. Be where your body is, not where your mind is trying to take you. “ Guy Finlay
And I have learned that when I am uncomfortable about something and look to see if I had an expectation around it, it is always true. So I can evaluate if the expectation is still true in the moment and something that I want to lose peace over. It is always a choice, but a choice that we should consciously make.
Wishing you Peace