Today’s topic is about expectations. Conflicting views arise – one belief is that we need expectations so that we and others are accountable. The other belief is a more Buddhist perspective about letting go of our expectations to alleviate suffering. What is the deal with expectations, anyway?
Highs and Lows
First, we must remember that having low expectations and having high expectations are still both forms of having expectations. Studies show that students whose teachers have low expectations of them perform at a lower level. Students whose teachers have high expectations of them perform at a higher level. In this regard, believing in peoples’ abilities and having high expectations of them allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
What happens when you smile just to be polite, or you say “Yes,” when you really mean “No”? Or you say you like something when the exact opposite is true?
The result is that your internal self clashes with your external behavior, and tension is what results. This tension may manifest as aches and pains in your body, or it might lead to tense thoughts, such as “I should have…” or “I wish I hadn’t…” Other implications can be extreme exhaustion, fatigue, and/or the desire to escape the tension through various substances (food, alcohol, drugs) or behavior (sex, gambling, purging).
While subbing a vinyasa yoga class a few weeks ago, I noticed that the majority of the bodies in the room fell into two categories: flexible and stiff. While this is an extreme oversimplification, being the therapist that I am, I began to draw conclusions to life off the mat, and to relationships in general. What I outline here can be seen as literal, metaphorical, and/or sexual.
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