If you've ever been around the "spiritual" or New Age communities, then you're going to feel me on this post. The entire concept of being free [ zip, zilch, zero ] of expectations is a recipe for disaster that runs the risk of leaving you boundary-less, burned out, gaslit and scooped up into a whirlwind of toxicity cloaked as "conscious."
An expectation is a belief that something will or should happen at some point in the future. Expectations, if arrived at via practical and measurable means, are one of the most effective ways to evolve with another person, establish trust and cultivate vulnerability.
So, why has the New Age / Spiritual-ish community tried so hard to do-away with them? This can be viewed just like the "which came first the chicken or the egg" scenario. Did the concept of non-duality and non-judgement birth a banishment of expectation or do expectations inherently put the concept of non-duality and non-judgement at risk? Simply put, trying to remove the language and desire of expectation is intended to let people "be who they are" free of judgment. Here's the MASSIVE, glaring, obvious problem - it also creates the space for people to stop the process of forming secure attachments to the things they want to create or experience in their life. What a New Age person might tell you is born of non-judgement, comes from something deeper - a childhood wound of not wanting to get let down or rejected.
Removing expectation entirely, rather than reevaluating the what [ how we measure and define the expectation ] and why [ examine our true motive and intention before we decide the expectation is worthy], creates a space in which people can easily convince themselves of some level of spiritual righteousness. Think the language "I've risen above expectation" or "It is wrong of me to expect anything of another when they have free will." This dismissal of something that simply needs to evaluated, redefined and properly communicated is now simply protecting their inner child and creating cycles of toxicity at every turn.
So, What Can You Do About Redefining Expectation?
Often, we face three issues with our expectations:
1) we don't know how to effectively communicate or articulate them to the other person in a way that can be acted upon
2) we don't know how to check our motives to make sure the expectation is truly in the best interest of growth and productivity [ rather than fear + control ]
3) we don't create measurable + realistic expectations [ we create intangible, ever-evolving, dynamically shifting ones so we can always fail or be failed by another ]
At Break Method, we teach you how to reverse engineer problems or symptoms to determine a rewiring course of action. How does the problem manifest in physical reality and how can we rewire the inputs to generate a new output?
Here's an example:
The Story of Undefined + Unspoken Expectations of Person A
Here are the deets of Person A:
Person A always feels misunderstood, let down and unimportant by their loved ones.
Person A spends a significant amount of time replaying the past and ruminating on how people constantly overlook [her / him / they] and let's this fuel and justify their future actions.
Person A tends to go into conversations expecting to be ignored or dismissed and in turn shows up to them quiet, indecisive and has trouble getting the point across.
To Rewire. Person A has to address the following:
What is Person A expecting from loved ones? Is it words of validation or praise? Is it praise with a specific tone of voice or body language? Is it simply not being talked over or ignored? Is it to have their ideas taken action on? [ this must be honestly observed and noted internally for each interaction. If we aren't honest with ourselves about what we want it to look like or feel like then we can't decide if that's a reasonable or worthy application of expectation ]
What is the motive of Person A's expectation? Is it to make [her / him / they] feel good enough, worthy, smart, or pretty? Is it for a person who has always behaved one way to magically surprise [her / him / they] and react completely out of character? Are these expectations realistic and motivated by productivity? [ this step must be introspective before the expectation is set - why do I want this? Is the person on the other end capable of this? Is the achievement of this expectation in the best interest of our relationship or relationship growth? Is there a stepping stone expectation I can align with and properly articulate to help our relationship grow in the right direction? ]
Is Person A's expectation clearly defined and measurable? The goal is to be able to get clear on what the expectation looks like so let's say that Person A decides it's simply "to express [her / him / they] opinion without being talked over or interrupted." Then we can inquire if that expectation seems reasonable to the other party involved. So, we ask ourselves, does this person tend to interrupt? If the answer is yes and we are committed to seeing our expectation through, we now have new information that needs to be involved in the "clear articulation of expectation" category. That means Person A will need to make direct eye contact and say something to the effect of "I'd really like to share my thoughts on this completely before you respond, ok?" [ that's a crystal clear request ] This way the expectation is obvious to the other person, clearly defined and if followed through on, helps Person A bolster their voice, boundaries and ability to commit and follow through.
If not approaching the interaction in this way [ i.e. defaulting to old patterned behaviors ], Person A would be likely to:
a) not clearly define their expectation so they could feel wronged or ignored no matter how the interaction went
b) they'd likely enter the conversation already assuming how it would end thus affecting their body language and voice tone
c) create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they speak quietly or in an unconfident manner quickly triggering the other person to talk over them.
Using the example of Person A, would they be able to grow and evolve productively by simply dismissing any idea of expectation? Would removing expectation entirely ever help them cultivate the intentional scenarios to help them grow, rewire and evolve their behavior?
I'll help you. NO.
Dismissing expectation, rather than redefining or evaluating the expression, keeps you either trapped in the same chaotic cycle you've always been in [ for Person A the self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling rejected and ignored ] or allowing situations to often get worse while you steadily diminish your boundaries and trick yourself into believing you're "growing spiritually."
Expectations work with and support boundaries, accountability and personal growth.
The work exists in learning how to question your motives and be honest about why you want something to turn out a certain way or engage with you in a specific manner. When we can be honest about our motivation, clearly define the expectation in relation to the growth or evolution we wish to curate, we can then properly communicate this to the person or people that are currently operating in the dark [ while we internally resent them for letting us down] . When we don't learn how to own our expectations and properly communicate them, we set the people up around us to let us down, reject us, not show up and prove our worst fears true. The key to exponential relationship growth is to properly execute this cycle allowing us to cultivate trust, vulnerability and help people grow with us as we grow.
Want to know more about how to evaluate your expectations and motives in relationship communicatIon? Want to dig deeper in the expression of your attachment style? The Spring Semester of The School of Sustainable Self-Mastery opens for enrollment soon. Click HERE to get on our launch list and receive our only discount of the year.
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