Letting go of expectations

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” ~William Shakespeare

I do often find that it is my expectations not being met that cause me the most heartache. I tend to blame the heartache on the event, situation, or person that did not meet my expectations thinking that the cause of the disappointment was somewhere out there, but in reality the cause of the disappointment was my own expectations.

I’m not saying that having expectations is a bad thing. In many cases, setting high expectations for ourselves can help us grow. But when we set unrealistically high expectations, especially over other people or situations that we have no control over, we are often disappointed when those expectations are not met.

I am slowly learning to set more realistic expectations. I am also learning to let go of expectations so that I can experience events and people as they are, not as I want them to be.

Tonight I attended a gathering of my local shamanic community in which I had managed to let go of most of my expectations about the event and the people. I had general expectations, of course, like where we were meeting, what time the event was to start, what we might do and who might be there, but I did not go in with any preconceived expectation about how I would experience the event or the other people who attended.

It turned out to be a good thing. There were a number of people there that I had never met, and that was fine with me tonight because I was not holding to any fixed notion about who would be in attendance. There were some interpersonal dynamics in play tonight that I did not understand, and this didn’t faze me (it normally would have thrown me for loop). Most importantly, the high point of the evening was receiving a rite. I knew ahead of time what rite I was to be receiving and what the logistics of receiving the rite would be, but I intentionally did not set any expectations about how I would experience it energetically.

I wound up experiencing a greater sense of community tonight than I have felt before, even though I did not know several of the people who were there before this evening. I was also completely blown away by the experience of receiving this particular rite. Because I did not have pre-formed expectations, I was able to be completely open to receiving whatever came, and it turned out to be both more than and very different from what I would have imagined if I had formed expectations. I’m grateful that I was able to be so open. I think that if I had tried to constrain the experience to a set of expectations, I may well have missed out on all that was available to me.

I am joyful tonight for all I did receive—and am amazed at how deeply I know that what I received was exactly what was needed, even though I did not expect it. I am also aware of the amount I have grown over the last few months in the recognition of my ability to show up without expectations, open to the experience as it was. I am extraordinarily grateful for both.