Releasing Expectations: Letting Go

 Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

Is it possible to let go of expectations that bring us pain and disappointment? How do we navigate the world when we release these barriers and trust in what is? Can we stop ourselves from believing in preconceived fantasies such as the “perfect” life? What are the steps we can take that give us peace instead of heartache?

Wayne Dyer said, “Peace is retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” We can make all kinds of elaborate plans, write pages of lists, and set lofty goals, yet life inevitably gets in the way. Accidents. Divorce. Job loss. Illness. Death. All are roadblocks that force us to scream, “Hey, this isn’t what I expected out of my life, damnit!” So we recalibrate, yet, if we continue to believe in false expectations, depression will follow.

I know my own life has been a series of reboots. I never expected to divorce, move back to my hometown, remarry, lose my father to Alzheimer’s, retire early, or move to another state in my late 50’s, but I am learning to detach from what I thought my life would be like. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s damn hard. I’ve had to let go of the fairytales, and to be perfectly honest, it sometimes just pisses me off. I get angry. I’m sad. I find myself crying, “I want what they have,” but then I take a breath. No one’s life is perfect. Everyone I know fights battles. So…I am on a daily quest to let go of my own unrealistic expectations. How do I go about it?

  1. Be honest. What is my truth? What is my motivation? Do I want something from others or do I just want love?
  2. Don’t take things too personally. Laugh. Let others just be.
  3. Accept frailty in others. No one, and I mean, no one is perfect. Thank God. Embrace the imperfection in others and in myself.
  4. Come to every situation with an empty cup. An empty cup releases expectations.
  5. Look at the world through a child’s eye. If it is new, there are no expectations.
  6. Be realistic and let go of comparisons. What I have is mine, so therefore it is unique. If struggling, remember # 3.
  7. Detach. Detach from fear. Detach from ego. Detach from disappointment.
  8. Work on relinquishing control over others. I can’t control how others think or behave. I have enough trouble with my own issues. If struggling, remember #2.
  9. Practice daily gratitude. Always.
  10. Know that plans will change. Lists will get torn up. Goals will be broken. This is life. Let go and move on. Sometimes the unexpected is painful, yet beauty can be found. Continue to look for joy.

When I focus on the wonder of “what is” instead of “what I expect,” I choose to live this life. I am present. I am me. I am living in love.

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.” – Wayne Dyer

“I let go of all expectation. People, places, and things are free to be themselves, and I am free to be me.” – Louise Hay


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