I have written quite a bit about expectations and how having them affects our lives and can leave us confused. The effect has both positive and negative implications. What came to mind recently was a broader understanding of why expectations can offer such a confusing course to follow.
Expectations are like intentions, goals, plans, dreams and faith. Who can argue that those are not good things? Much of the New Age, positive thinking pop psychology focuses on how important it is to create positive intentions in order to build a consciousness of expecting good to increase abundantly in our lives. I have been involved in this way of thinking all my life as a Unity student and minister. I have seen wonderful demonstrations of how the change to a positive consciousness of expectation—faith—brings about healing, harmony and prosperity. So, I know this works.
On the other hand, I also see how we often have expectations that involve what we want others to do. This is where a “positive” intention about another person is really an unconscious attempt to control the person. Simply because we believe our intention is positive, it is not our call on what someone else should do or how they should think or act. It really makes no difference how clearly we think someone else would benefit from our help. We should want the highest and best to come into their lives, but according to their own expectations and hopes.
When we are overly focused in what we hope others will do or how they might change we are creating a potential for disappointment, even heartbreak, when they choose another path. The relationship between parent and child is a place where the potential for disappointment is often subtle and not recognized until there is some form of rebellion. Our children ultimately must make their own decisions. It is a primary way of learning. It is so immediate, usually, that little if anything needs to be said to point out the miscalculation of their judgment. It is so difficult in many cases for a parent to stand by, but stand back, as their child begins making difficult decisions and dealing with the consequences. We can always let them know we are there for them at any time. This is something they will respect and count on if we have carefully laid a groundwork of trust by our example beyond words.
My conclusion about expectations, at this point anyway, remains one of working on myself rather than being concerned with expecting others to change. I can do something about the way I think, feel and act. I can develop a greater faith in the qualities and characteristics with which the Creator has endowed me. I can love others in my life and see them responding to the positive aspects of their own creativity. In so doing I can get off the merry-go-round having grasped the gold ring!