Life Coaching

Week Eight: Letting Go of Expectations


Expectations are premeditated resentments

~ Jon Young in the Renewal of the Creative Path (8 Shields Institute)

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One of our deepest longings is to belong to a “tribe”, to be accepted, liked and loved. Most of the things we do in life are intended to please others and fulfill their expectations so they can accept and love us in return. Most of the time this is unconscious and it can work in mysterious ways, not being easy to spot at first sight.

But as we do things to please and attract others, to “belong”, we also have high expectations of them: we want them to be ready to accept our changes, to connect with what’s important to us and even to change and connect at the same level, time and with the same things we connect and change…

A short story of expectations, regrets and rejection:

Jon Young shares the story of a young man who was slowly finding his connection with himself, Nature and others until one day he stopped the practice of the secret spot altogether (even when it was doing him a lot of good). When Jon asked him why, he didn’t know. After a week of reflection, the young man shared his experience: when he had tried to share the sacredness of his newfound re-connection with Nature, he was rejected by the attitude and words from one of his buddies, the closest indeed, from a group of long-term friends who used to meet for drinks and chatting each week.

As a result, this young man stopped a practice that would result in embarrassment and potential loss of his friendship, his “tribe”. But his own soul was suffering and longing for this reconnecting exercise…

Through some mentoring, he discovered that there were others who were eager to listen to his stories of Nature and reconnection, so Jon suggested he turned to them and let go of any expectations about his buddies.

With time, he found the peace and joy he needed and his buddies started asking him how he managed to be so balanced and grounded. That was the moment for him to share his stories with them again, this time without fear of being rejected.

When we start reconnecting and find our call, gifts and purpose, something extraordinary happens. We want to share this joy and newfound sacred gift with our loved ones, our significant other, our family, our work colleagues or classmates, our community and even the world.

The same happens when we slowly (or suddenly) understand in our souls, heads and bodies, what is happening in the world: the pain, the separation, the oppression, the abuse…we want to share this new-found and important “information” with all we care for.

We have the expectation that they will “get us” and join us in our joy for the newfound path… or join us in the grief for the world and the activism for what’s sacred and worth…wouldn’t be wonderful?

But people have each their own shadows, gifts and paths. More than anything, they have their own timing and space for their calls to happen to them (and for these calls to be answered)…so when we share our own findings with them and they don’t respond, this only means they are not ready. We need then to look further and find other anchors and people we can trust with our stories, fears and gifts of transformation. When we do that, we not only “find our tribe”, we also give our loved ones some time to “catch up” and be themselves around us.

Us? We may start being ourselves more so: from their perspective we may become more alive or just different. We may start making changes in our lives, from what we eat to what we wear, where we work and what topics interest us…these changes will have an impact, so letting go of expectations will help your loved ones to navigate the already difficult transition they are perceiving in you.

The good news is that your own transition may eventually infect them, but please don’t hold this expectation too dear. It may never happen, it may not be their path, their time or their place to change.

Joanna Macy, author and activist says in “The Work that Reconnects” that we don’t do what we do because we have guarantees we will succeed: we do what we do with no attachment to outcome. We do what we do because doing otherwise would be killing our souls…

If you love them, let them be. If they love you, they may do the same (remember, no guarantees).

It won’t be easy, but whatever the end results, you both will be what you need to be.

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
~ Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes