Expectations, great and small, good lord, it seems we have them all. Did you know that expectations are the number one cause of all pain and suffering? If you don’t believe me, just ask Buddha.
You might have thought that stress was the number one cause of pain, and you’d be right. But let me ask you: What causes stress?
Usually it’s the expectations we place on ourselves, but just as often it’s the ones we believe the outside world places upon us.
What causes fear? Same answer: Expectations. It’s the expectation that something bad is going to happen. What that “bad” thing may be is up to you.
What causes sadness? Doggone-it, it’s those pesky expectations again. What is sadness but the fear and worry that you don’t have everything you want or need? You may think your sadness is caused by loss, say the loss of a loved one like a spouse, child, family member or dear friend, or the loss of a job or home, the list goes on and on. What you’re really sad about is that your expectations are no longer being fulfilled. It’s only because you believe and expect you should have these experiences, such as the continued presence of a loved one, that you become sad when the experience changes.
Still not buying it? Let me show you an example. What if you KNEW beyond any doubts that your beloved was always with you and you could always feel their love as you wished. Anytime, all the time, you were aware of their love. Sounds good, right? No reason to be sad. You get up in the morning and you each go your separate ways. You’re not together, but you’re not sad. You know you’ll see your beloved at the end of the day. You love them, they love you, it’s all good.
Then they have to go away on a trip, for whatever reason. You might be a little sad that you won’t be seeing them every night. Where does that sadness come from? From the preconceived expectation that you should see them every night, that you need to see them every night. But your sadness isn’t too bad, you know you’ll see them again in a couple of days. There’s no love lost.
Imagine if you could stretch this time out to a few weeks, a month, even years, and the results were the same. Sadness is caused by expectations for certain results or experiences that you want to achieve or avoid. How deeply you experience sadness will be based on how deeply you expected certain results.
Usually, sadness will fade over time as we adjust our expectations to become more in alignment with what we’re actually experiencing. Except, so often we create new expectations for new experiences and the cycle begins again.
Okay, now here’s the punch line. WHAT IF you could love without expectations? Ohmygod, you think, not possible. I agree, we all have expectations, great and small. But if you could love without expectations – then what? ? ? You tell me. It could be interesting.