Managing Expectations

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Expectations! We all have them as human beings and we find it difficult to manage them from time to time, provided it does not get fulfilled. Human beings are made up of needs, wants and desires and as a result expectations are bound to happen. If someone says that he or she does not have any expectations towards anything , it becomes little difficult to agree upon it. Even monks and people who have renounced the world ,find it hard to have null expectations. May be a daily reminder is required to put a curb on one’s expectations.

If we look at Hinduism, The Bhagavad Gita which is the Holy Book , has a very important aspect on how to manage it. Please have a look at the same.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse: 47

The verse is—

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७

In Roman scripts—

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

Meaning:

You have the right to work only but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.

I have always wondered about how to inculcate this in our own lives. It is easier said than done, when one says that you should always focus on the work of it and not for the result attached with it, isn’t it? When we give a small exam with full preparation, we expect good result; when we cook something with our heart and soul, we want the ones being fed to have a smile on their face; when we put in a little effort to make some one happy, we expect them to positively react or sometimes reciprocate the gesture; when we write a message, we expect a reply and the list is endless. When our expectations do not get fulfilled, though not always sad, we do feel a bit of restlessness within . Sometimes, it is unnecessary, disturbing and thoroughly unwanted.

Another aspect that I have noticed is when we personally feel any kind of strong emotion, we also tend to expect our closed circle influenced by the same emotions. This is a general tendency. On a personal note, I received a good news yesterday and I was elated. The same set of expectations filled my senses , where I too expected every one around me to feel the same level of happiness. Well, that was not the case. It was a normal day for all.

After observing a little closely, I understood that it is just not feasible for another person to feel happy or sad on the same level owing to some very personal matter of another. A collective happiness or grief can happen only when the the group members are equally affected by the news or the event. For instance, a medal at the Olympics gives us goosebumps due to happiness, because we as a nation identify with the acknowledgement or recognition. Similarly , family members can feel the pain of a loss of life because, each of them identify with the loss, personally.

But unlike this a personal happiness or grief has to be handled only on a personal level. Probably, one can take a moment to just step back and understand that it is okay for others to not react the way you have wanted them to . Every one has a different perspective on life and it is not every one’s job to match your level of enthusiasm or sadness depending on the situation you are undergoing. No , doubt this can make you feel lonely, but at least will save you from feeling sad and will eventually help you see the bigger picture, the reality! So as per my understanding below are top three ways to handle expectations in a better way.

  1. Identification: The first step is to identify whether the situation in hand involves only you or is it the same for all the concerned. The understanding of the individuality or the collectivity of the situation can help in making things clear for oneself. The instant feeling of elation or sadness blocks the mind to many extent and we tend to just think for our own shelves. It is completely natural also . But if this state prolongs then there is every chance for undue expectation to set in and then the vicious cycle just continues.
  2. Rationalization: Once the situation in hand is understood, it is advised to take a few moments , probably see the whole situation as a third party and try to rationalize things. There might be a moment of shock to realize that certain setbacks or achievements are just yours and solely belongs to you. Even your blood relatives, family members, close friends , siblings or for that matter lovers / spouses might not even identify with your inflated state of emotion. Understanding that it is okay for them to feel so , not only saves you from feeling dejected and ruining the moment but also makes things easier for you.
  3. Acceptance : The final step after this is to accept and focus on the work that lies ahead. Because any state of high intensity lasts only for a few moments. You may feel very happy about a good news but soon that feeling subsides. The feeling of jubilation does not last very long as compared to depression I guess !In both the cases, the journey has to be undertaken by you only. And this stage also helps in bringing back the balance, to get the further task accomplished .

Of course, all the good things are a little tough to practice and needs mindfulness and consciousness, but the benefits are undoubtedly many fold. The only struggle that we mortals need to make is to set reminders to ourselves and act accordingly, to realign our actions, take corrective measures, make timely damage control and concentrate on what is necessary.

Do you also go through such situations in your life sometimes?What are your thoughts on this ?Do let me know!

Love,

Chinmayee

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Matheikal says:

    Expectations, like Buddha’s desires, cause sorrow. But in practical life they do play a big role, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have rightly pointed out about Buddha’s take on handling desires. They play a big role, even I feel the same. Thank you so much for stopping by 😊✨

      Like

  2. soniadogra says:

    Expectations/desires are the cause of all suffering. But how can we break free of them? Not entirely possible but a concerted effort in that direction can be made. Now why make that effort at all? Because you wouldn’t want to keep suffering, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely right, Sonia. Thank you for stopping by 😊✨

      Like

  3. Ravish Mani says:

    Can you do anything about your expectations? Of course, you can do but upto a limit only. Take your example of exam. When you give exam with full preparation, you expect good result. But the only thing that you can do for good result is full preparation & giving the exam. And you have already done that. So, isn’t it better to focus on things that you can do something about?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with your words completely 😊

      Like

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