I have come to realize that most of us, myself included, tend to carry expectation around us like a backpack. I often ponder whether expectation has grown as an epidemic over time alongside the rapid pace of modern society. Did we as human beings always succumb to the constant state of ‘SHOULD-ING’ that we force upon ourselves nowadays? Or perhaps is is just that, in general, the more that we DO, the more we or others expect that we CAN DO…like Energizer Bunnies! (Going….and Going…and GOING!)
I have come to notice in myself lately my sensitivity to expectation, sometimes put upon me by others, but mostly, with myself. A prime example of this: as I was laying out the happenings of my day in my head today, I ran through my list of To-Do’s…teach Yoga at 9:30, attend Pilates at midday, fit in a walk on the beach (for body and soul), daily administrative tasks, and sitting down to write my blog. Now, most people would say that is far too much to fit in before the 3pm school pickup, but I was sure that I could do it, despite the woes of exhaustion and lackluster from being the first day of my moon cycle. At that moment…my head said YES but my heart said ‘stroll on the beach, chai latte and a vegan cupcake, and how about a pedicure?’ Well, sans the pedicure my heart won in the end, but not before all out battle in my mind in the parking lot of the Pilates studio! Interesting how guilt and expectation travel around like best buddies, playing ping pong with your ego at so many moments in the day. In that moment I realized that no one else was going to judge me for letting go of the parts of my day that weren’t going to serve me, it was only me staring failure in the face for not being able to maintain the ‘super-human’ like standard I was putting on myself. (As an ambitious person by nature, this is an attribute that I really have to watch out for in myself.)
After many years of succumbing to expectation on my Yoga mat, I finally let that go completely a few years ago, and I have to admit, it was one of the most liberating moments along my Yoga journey to date. I can honestly admit that I am able to come to my mat, my safe and sacred space, and truly allow myself to do WHATEVER comes to me in the moment. I love to instill this permission in my students as well, even in a class setting, feeling into whatever is serving you in the moment, despite what is being offered into the shared space…your body, your yoga. The Yoga mat is a great place to explore this dissipation of expectation, as our mats are the mirror into the lives that we lead out in our world.
It is obvious to me that my journey with expectation is still very much a work in progress. In order to free ourselves from the reigns of expectation and guilt, we must be willing to drown out the constant chatter from our ego about conforming to what society expects of us, giving in to the fear of missing out, and make informed choices about what we do with our time. Because the power of CHOICE is always there for us, we just have to be willing to live our truth, even if our truth travels in a different direction to someone else, or everyone else! So the next time you find yourself at the cross-roads of choice, see what happens if you tell expectation to take a hike, and take his friend guilt along too, dissipate the words ‘I SHOULD’ and trust the unfolding into the truth of the moment…let go, and see what happens. I promise, the universe, and your heart, won’t steer you wrong.