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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Living without expectations guarantees inner peace

Expectations always bring agony. So, to live without expectations is a personal choice.

Someone I know wrote to me asking if it was possible to live without expectations. Interesting question that is.
That at the root of all agony is an unmet expectation is an irrefutable truth of Life. Think of any situation where you have experienced agony and you will notice that an expectation was always behind it. You do a friend a favor. The friend does not either return it or thank you. You agonize. Now, was doing your friend a favor the cause of your agony? Was the friend not returning the favor the cause of your agony? Or did your expectation that your friend return the favor cause your agony? Obviously, your expectation caused you agony – because, minus the expectation, everything between you and your friend is just fine.
So, living without expectation is simply a choice. If you choose to expect something out of everything or everyone, be sure that you will agonize each time your expectations are not met. If you choose to drop expectations, you will be happy either way - whether you get something or not. So, it is a choice. It is, in some sense, a no-brainer too!
On the surface, at a superficial level, it may appear that you cannot but have an expectation from someone you have a relationship with. For instance, it is right to expect that a mother must trust her children and provide for them. But what if the mother does not trust, does not care? What’s the point in having that expectation just because there is a mother-child relationship? Won’t the child agonize every time the mother fails to meet his or her expectation? The truth is that in any relationship, over time, sometimes, the people in it stop "relating" with each other! This is where the problem arises. Let’s take another instance. If you make coffee for your spouse every morning, you may have an expectation that on a day when you are sleeping in late or are unwell, the spouse makes you the coffee. Now, what happens when your spouse does not either make or offer to make you coffee? Will you then start to re-examine your choice of making coffee for your spouse? Possibly you well may re-examine if you only see the relationship and don’t relate to your spouse anymore. But if you still relate to your spouse, you will make the coffee whether or not your spouse makes one for you or even acknowledges the one you make. Expectations arise when the relating has stopped between people. In such situations the relationship has become a contract, an agreement. It has become conditional. You do this THEN I will do that. But when you are still relating, there are no conditions, no expectations, there's just being, there's just doing.
So, whether it is making coffee or doing the dishes or forgiving someone (in a relationship) for transgressions, whatever, simply pour your heart into it and do it. Or don't do it. That is also fine. But please don't do it - or anything - with an expectation. The problem with any expectation is that irrespective of the character or nature of the person on whom the expectation is pinned, you are the one who will suffer and agonize if that expectation goes unmet. So do you want to suffer or do you want to live free? Your choice! If you want inner peace though, make sure you choose to live without expectations!

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