There are some of us who are completely unaware that a pile of unmet expectations lives within us. It accumulates much like anything does in our psyche — we may recognize the pang of hurt or the sorrow of disappointment when it occurs — but then we quietly file it away and put a bunch of other folders over it so we can’t look at it. Eventually, of course, we forget it is there.
They can be anything, really. Being last to be chosen for the kickball team. Not making cheerleader. Left out of the big party everyone else was invited to. The career that takes a wrong turn. The friend who drifts away. A partner who cheats. A wife who leaves. From the seemingly insignificant to the incredibly life shattering, at its core is the realization that you didn’t want or expect it to happen.
For most of us, we cope with an unmet expectation through our ego. Each of us has varying sizes of ego, but interestingly, the bigger it is the more overzealous the denial that it — or you — hurt. Our ego is what makes us sweep it under the rug. Pretend it didn’t matter anyway. We take the blow silently and quietly, then work really really hard at showing the world that we are fine. Just fine. In the process of managing our outwardly appearance we begin to convince ourselves as well. Until eventually we can’t find the file anymore because we keep burying it under more disappointment or unmet expectations.
This seemingly innocuous approach to coping is anything but. It changes you. Instead of approaching the world with your open arms and whole heart, you peak out from behind that pile of wounds, blinking at the light in front of you, not trusting it at all because look at all the times you’ve been hurt before. You’ve become jaded, cynical and maybe even have adopted that strategy of being mean and angry up front so you can beat someone else to the punch you know is coming.
Yet in truth what you really want most of all — what we all want — is to be seen for who we really are and loved. The problem is we want others to do the work for us. We want them to peel back the layers of callous and scars that cover our hurt and our pain, until they can find the soft and wide open child-like heart that lives deep within. We expect them to be master detectives, finding all the buried wounds you’ve long forgotten about, dusting them off and bringing them to the light together with a perfectly rational explanation that takes away all the hurt that you buried with it.
This work is not for the partner you’ve chosen. No one can fix you. This is your work. And the sooner you begin to rid yourself from this emotional pain body — cleaning out the closet, if you will — the more storage space you will have for the love and good memories you long for. If it sounds simple, it is. The work itself may not be, but the life concept is. You cannot attract what you are not able to feel, and energy can’t flow in a cluttered heart.
One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself, and those that love you dearly, is to let go of your unmet expectations. Do the work that is required to set them free. They are not serving you. Your body will be lighter and healthier; your mind will receive positivity; your heart, now raw and exposed and vulnerable again, will attract the most honest and powerful gift we have in our human experience: love.
Early on in my personal spiritual journey, I went through a phase of watching and reading stories of NDE’s or near death experiences. It was an integral part of shedding my ingrained catholic beliefs of heaven and hell and life ending at death.
This led me to the work of Dr. Michael Newton (Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives), which quite literally blew my mind and made me eager to experience my own past life regression; which I later did with the fabulous Nancy Hajek right here in Nashville.
In the forward to Frank Ostaskeski’s beautiful book, The Five Invitations* is this quote by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.:
Chances are until you have experienced that one great loss, this will read to you as more ominous than catalytic. Like grief itself, these types of statements can’t fully be absorbed and understood until you experience them yourself.
We can get attached to who we think we are. We can be downright stubborn about it. Our identity seamlessly and completely intertwined with what we do. What we do becomes what we are. But what if what we do is taken away from us in the blink of an eye? Who are we then?
In the words of Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu: