Expect the Unexpected
One thing I’ve learnt is that when foundations are shaken, there seem to not only be aftershocks but resistance to the disturbance in the first place.
Let’s put some colour into this picture, to make it more relatable.
When I decided last year to insert some new adventure into my life, I didn’t really give much thought or time to the fact that my life had become very routine. Life had become very structured.
I am someone that works well with structure, so that part wasn’t particularly alarming. But the part that had begun to alarm me was how comfortable I was feeling.
When life becomes too mundane I start to get uncomfortable with the level of comfort.
So I chose to make a change.
January 5th, I hopped on a plane, engrossed in my own state of bewilderment with life, and what I expected to unfold before me over the coming three months.
Expectation was to become a very real friend/enemy.
What I expected was to be excited about boarding the plane (I wasn’t). What I expected was a long holiday, with no real challenges (it most certainly was not).
What I quickly began to learn, however, is that expectation can be a killer. Now this might sound strange, because surely isn’t it a good thing to have expectations? Isn’t that a healthy attribute to possess?
Yes. Expectations can be good. Yes, they can be healthy.
However, what I had come to realise was that expectation was defining and directing my life in a most unhealthy manner.
Expectation was creating a blanket in my life; a blanket of fear.
I had been placing so much emphasis on meeting (often) unrealistic expectations that I was completely neglecting myself in the process.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that I wasn’t listening to what I needed.
I wasn’t listening to what was required for me to be happy and fulfilled in everyday situations. Instead I was feeding this romantic ideal in my head of what was awaiting me – be that an event, a person, a place, whatever – and when these expectations weren’t met (which was 99% of the time) then my romantic idealism caused me to be crushed, despondent and emotionally disconnected from real life.
Now that all sounds very dramatic.
Probably because I like to be descriptive in my use of the English language.
But there is a very real point to all of this.
What I’ve experienced from this realisation is true breakthrough in the pursuit of everyday happiness.
When my expectations weren’t met, that meant I shut down and switched off emotionally (because I had been hurt…by myself and sometimes by others).
Which meant that I wasn’t giving the best version of myself to those around me. Which isn’t fun, because I’m just the most fun to be around.
Imagine sad me; No thanks.
So how did I combat this cycle of destruction?
By taking better care of myself. Good internal management is reflected in a happy external persona; Your inner reality will always show up in your external one.
If you take care of yourself, it’ll not only be beneficial to you but everyone else around you.
Eat properly. Exercise. Go for a walk if you feel like it. Read a book. Communicate how you’re feeling to someone. Disengage from virtual reality and engage in actual reality - put down the phone.
Listen to what your heart and body need.
But how do expectation and fear tie all this together?
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
I was fearful of embracing this path of breaking down old mindsets that were harmful to me.
Because ironically I had sought false comfort in the compromise I had come to know. But working through lies you believe about yourself is always going to be painful.
I was fearful of that trip not playing out the way I had imagined it in my head.
I was fearful of disappointing others in their expectations of me.
The beautiful reality here is that fear is a liar.
Once you realise that, nothing can stop your achieving your dreams.
So stop giving fear room to breathe. It doesn’t deserve it.
Live life unconfined; live fully you.
Author: Ed White