“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”
Richard Feynman, physicist and Noble Prize winner
Good morning, friends! I hope you are very well this morning. Things are going around, so protect yourself. Now, let’s get to it.
“Expectations” sounds like a word School House Rock should have covered back in the ’70s. The management of expectations is one of the more powerful issues of life. Consider: did you grow up with any awareness of expectations from your parents? Whether you knew it or not, they had them. We all do and did. It’s nearly impossible to experience anyone without the infection of expectations.
Some expectations are warranted. If one goes out to eat, service commensurate with the cost creates expectations. Last night for supper at a local Chipotle the preparer of the food was inattentive; so be it for fast food. If I’m at a fine dining establishment I’d better get serious attention. I expect it. You rightly expect plenty of things for which you pay. It’s part of the consumer economy. But when we don’t pay (payment being a form of contract) or otherwise contract, that’s when expectations get into trouble.
When we’re on the giving end of expectations, as one Buddhist thinker taught me, we set ourselves up for the receiving of disappointments. That’s bad enough, but when we are on the receiving end of expectations we find ourselves in the morass of pressure, stress, anxiety, and generally negative life. I know, I know; someone will suggest that expectations fuel progress. That’s essentially an old wives’ tale. It isn’t true. Expectations may inspire someone in a particular direction, or encourage them to achieve, but in all cases we all do what we want to do when we want to do it and how we want to do it, again absent of the contract of payment or otherwise.
In life, we are beholding to no one for our own lives. Expectations are low-level table talk and little more. The one who expects, if heavy-handedly, is wrong and the one who suffers from heavy-handed expectations is to be pitied. Better is to be freed from expectations at all and to be engaged in a process of self-discovery, self-awareness and self-achievement. As far as our own lives go, we owe no one anything and anyone expecting is just plain wrong.
So examine your own habits of expectations, both given and received. And when you get the keys of release from that terrible prison use them and then give them away. Many prisoners await freedom. I expect nothing of you, that’s for sure. Just be the best you that you can be. And have a wonderful week.