Expectations: The Self-Created Misery
Without a doubt, expectations — regardless of whether they are for a person or event — bring us disappointment and internal suffering. Knowing that having high expectations leads to discontentment, why is it that we continue to place these expectations on ourselves, on others, and on events?
The root cause of expectations is attachment. Whenever someone is attached to something, they will naturally have expectations about it because there is this unspoken notion that a person or thing owes us something. Maybe in the past, you helped someone, or worked hard on a project, studied long for an exam, and in the end that person did not help you, your project failed, or you did not receive good scores on the exam. You will be upset as you expected the output to be the same as the input.
So how can one go about decreasing expectations and increasing happiness? Here are a few tips that have helped me understand and lessen expectations with experience:-
- True love is unconditional. Creating expectations, especially towards a loved one - family or friends, makes our love for them conditional. Break out of the mentality that, ‘since I did this for you, then you should do this for me.’ We want to get to a stage where we have pure love for others. Placing expectations is a roadblock to treating everyone with love and respect.
2. Placing expectations is not fair to those around you because they cannot read your mind. They are unaware of the internal expectations you have for them. Therefore, how can something that is not overtly communicated be fulfilled?
3. Just experiment. We know that expectations bring us misery. With whatever situation that comes your way, try to keep expectations at a minimum. From personal experience, I made a commitment to myself to go two months without having any expectations for any situation or person. I was happiest for those two months, and everything around me went more smoothly. Many times thoughts would arise in my mind such as, ‘Why didn’t my friend help me after all that I have done for her.’ Then I would pause and ask myself, ‘Why am I expecting her to be there for me?’ That is a weakness on my part - to ask something of someone only because we have a relationship, and I have helped her in the past. The world and people in the world do not owe you anything! The sooner people can accept this, the easier it will be to decrease expectations and have pure love for those around you.
4. Lastly, ask yourself how you are benefiting by placing expectations on other things and people. Every time I have analyzed any situation, I have very easily come to terms that there has not been a single benefit of placing expectations. If anything, it constantly brings suffering to you and those around you. This is why it is most beneficial for you to be aware of when you place expectations, who you place expectations upon, and what keys to use to dissolve these expectations.
However, let us give it a thought; are we able to meet the expectations we place on ourselves? Are we able to do everything that we want to from the beginning of the day until its end? Then who must not be allowing it to materialize? If we ourselves cannot work according to the way we want, then how can we expect other people’s mind, body and speech to work according to our needs and desires? Hence, it is very important to know how things work. Who runs this universe? And ultimately who am I?
Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan discloses the mystery behind all these questions through a spiritual science called Akram Vignan. Let us all be aware of these facts of life and come out of our expectations to live an ever-blissful life!