There are times when we truly look forward to something just as there are times when we totally dread something. What is the difference between anticipation with joy and anticipation with anxiety? Where and how does that expectation actually take place? If we think about it, the expectations take place in our minds. And, what that really means is that we totally make it up. We tend to create ideas and stories about how wonderful or awful something might be.
If we expect things to be positive and then they're not, we have set ourselves up for a disappointment. If we expect something to be difficult or challenging, and it winds up being easy or fun, we are pleasantly surprised. The things that we expect are things that have not already taken place, so in essence, we can't possibly know for sure if they will be good or bad. Yet, we THINK they will be one way or another. All the while, the idea of good or bad is going on in our minds even though the actuality hasn't yet taken place.
I can remember letting every distraction take me away from a project that I was really dreading. In my mind, I 'expected' the project to be difficult and time consuming. Clearly, I couldn't 'really' know what it would be like because it hadn't actually happened. Yet, I was convinced of all the negatives. Eventually, I set aside a block of time and 'forced' myself to deal with and finish it. What happened in reality? Once I set the time aside and focused on it, it went smoothly. It wasn't particularly difficult and the relief I felt when it was complete was enormous. That is not to say that the expectation may have turned out to be true. It may have been difficult, but it's important to note that either way, a lot of energy went into the expectation phase and could have gone directly into the reality of doing it -rather than wasting energy thinking and guessing what it might be like.
Thinking back to a time when my children were quite young, my son, who is older than my daughter, was extremely cautious and conscientious. My daughter was much more of a free spirit who didn't concern herself about responsibility. My son came home from school without his hand-knit sweater. I went crazy not understanding how a child who is so responsible could do something so irresponsible. Then I caught myself - I thought if this had been my daughter, I would have expected something like that. And from that moment on, I realized how our expectations can get in the way and how our behavior can be based on ideas and thoughts that just aren't true and may have no relevance. ANY child could have left a sweater behind. The difference occurred only in my expectations.
INVITATION TO EXPERIMENT:Is there something that you have expectations around? Perhaps, it's the behavior of another person, something you have put off doing, or maybe it's realizing that an expectation exists in your mind about something you would like to be different. If you are willing, notice your expectations and see them for what they really are - just ideas around something that may not be true or may not be possible. Also, notice how much time or energy goes into thinking about the ideas running rampant in your mind. Hopefully, you'll experience freedom and relief when dropping those ideas.
Marion Franklin - is a Professional Certified Life Coach who coaches individuals and groups regarding personal and professional change, focus, human relations, and conflict management. Marion has coached managers at major corporations including PepsiCo, Toys'R'Us, and Reader's Digest. She conducts and help clients design workshops and presentations, has been a featured presenter at meetings, retreats, and an ongoing Women's Workshop Series, has been cited in The Journal News and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on local Cable Television.http://www.lifecoachinggroup.com