“The weather is appalling here! Traffic’s going to be a nightmare. I think it’s best if you take the train from Gatwick to London Bridge and I’ll pick you up there,” she sent in a text message. “K” and I were grabbing a plane that evening to meet our dear friend “E” – a sort of early 40th birthday celebration – and, after promising to pick us up from the airport, “E” told us last minute she couldn’t make it.
In my mind an inner dialogue launched, triggering feelings of frustration and disappointment.
Slightly irritated, I decided not to answer the text. But then I saw “K’s” response in our group chat, “Sure, no problem. If we let you know when we’re on the train, will that give you enough time to get us?”
Amazing, she didn’t seem fazed at all. So why am I?
And then I paused – just long enough to approach the situation from another angle.
‘Why,’ I said, ‘am I directing my disappointment at my friend?’ What if me being upset has nothing to do with her and everything to do with an expectation of how I’d like things to be?
That’s when I fired my shitty expectations manager. It doesn’t take a brain child to figure out he (I am a woman so of course my manager is a he, lol) wasn’t doing a good job.
Instead of expecting my friend to act the way I want – an arbitrary thought based most likely on the standard I hold for myself – I decided to stop expecting her to behave any other way than the way she does.
I know – it’s not rocket science. But try and put it into practice yourself. My guess is that you’ll notice you have a lot of expectations – about people, life, career – you name it. Moreover, you might also realize you always expect the worst in order to end up pleasantly surprised. Two good reasons to fire our expectations manager.
So now what? Avoid expectations altogether? That would be next to impossible. We all have expectations. When we act it’s because we expect a certain result, otherwise we would have a nap instead.
The compromise is when expectations – a rather rational mechanism – remove us from the present moment. Disappointment – our emotional response – sets in, at the same time that reason pollutes with its famous party crusher – this shouldn’t be happening .
So in order to avoid the trap, we cultivate big thoughts – expectations and all – while we also learn to relish what is happening after all. When we appreciate the moment as it is – in all its imperfection – our experience can transform immediately and, oftentimes, the moment itself as well.
The train ride to my friend’s ended up being seamless – she even met us mid-way to make the journey easier. And after a weekend of enjoying simple moments with friends, she drove us to the airport to see us off. You want to know the “funniest” part? I realized on the way there that she had been right to have us take the train. Considering the distance, as well as the road work – there was even traffic on a Sunday – we probably made better time than if she would have picked us up in the first place.
That being said, know this. Expectations and disappointments have a sneaky side. They are often the result of a pre-meditated orchestration that works silently in the background. At Blast we call it our secret plan.
But for more on your secret plan – and how to work with it – you’ll have to stay posted for the upcoming e-book: My Secret Plan…
To be continued!