Recently I had the opportunity to truly feel how damaging expectations actually are. My experience allowed me to see that having an expectation is really just an ideal or a belief about something that we want and imagine will happen. When it doesn’t happen in the way we have imagined, we are likely to be left feeling disappointed, dissatisfied, saddened, frustrated and plain let down.
Sure expectations are often exceeded too, seen by many as being a great thing, albeit still creating a temporary emotion or heightened state in the body that is based on something outside of our control.
With all these emotions coursing through the body, it is not hard to see why I consider having expectations is damaging, with my recent trip to the snow giving me a very clear example.
Springtime in the Australian Snowy Mountains is considered by many to be a very beautiful time with the last of the snow melting, the rivers running fast, fresh and clear, and the animals – kangaroos, wombats, and owls, to name a few, out and about in full force. But on my recent road trip to these mountains, I didn’t notice much of this.
I have visited Canada and Japan during their winters and experienced mountains of snow. The accompanying feeling was glorious as I was awed by the beauty and sheer brilliance of nature – the ground, trees and buildings covered in copious amounts of snow: it was a magical sight.
I fully expected to be awed by the Australian Snowy Mountains in the same way but I wasn’t because in late September in Australia, there is barely any snow left. The mountains never look like they do in Canada or Japan – we champion 15cms of snow as being a great thing, whereby other countries are measuring it in the metres. Having a picture in my mind of what I wanted and expected to see created something quite unpleasant: my expectation was just not met and I was disappointed, dissatisfied and cranky because of it. Where had the joy and delight of being witness to this scene gone?
My husband on the other hand, was feeling the enormity of how marvellous and awe-inspiring nature in the Snowies was. He just arrived in the mountains and simply allowed whatever it was he saw and experienced to be. He allowed the world to meet him as it was, with no pre-conceived ideas or expectations. He could clearly see and feel the silence and loveliness laid out before him with no impediment.
With having an expectation, I did not allow what actually was there to be seen, to be seen.
With this very simple example, I can see now that having any expectation can carry the same outcome of disappointment or falsehood, regardless of the actual scenario.
Many times throughout life we hold an expectation of how we want it to be or how it should be: we are not open to just letting the world – people and situations as well as nature – show us their own true beauty, untarnished by our own made up reality. What we can conjure up in our own minds is likely to fall far short of the true splendor and magnificence real life can and does display.
Through this experience I have come to appreciate that in not imposing my own ideals on how life should be, in reality it can actually be more remarkable than anything my simple mind could imagine.
I see now that having expectations are our way of controlling a situation, but when we free ourselves of them we are able to feel and experience the true potential and beauty life reveals to us.
By Suzanne Anderssen, Brisbane
A True Relationship with Nature