Intro: Alexander Pope, one of the greatest English poets of the 18th century said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.: I love that. That’s one of my favorite sayings. I’m Steven Webb and this is Stillness In The Storms Podcast.
On today’s show, I’m going to share how to stop expectations from ruining your inner peace. We all have these expectations of what life is going to be like, how people should show up, all these stories in our heads of all different types of how life should be. I guess that’s the overarching thing of expectations. So on this podcast, we’re gonna see why do expectations block your happiness? Should we drop expectations entirely? Why healthy expectations?
So I want to go back to that first quote, ‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed’, Alexander Pope, I guess that’s what it comes down to, here on the spiritual journey alone and that is don’t expect anything. Should we be really not expect anything from a partner or a family member? Is it really the way the world’s gonna work nowadays? Well, we’ll explore about that a little later, but I want to share one other quote as well, because it goes two ways. Bruce Less says, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.’
I love that quote also because that does the other side of it as well. let’s look at why expectations are, where do we have them in life? Well, as we’re going through school and we think about careers, think about work, what we’re going to do in life, we have expectations of us. Where our lives go and we have expectations of life and career. I can remember at school and whenever I bumped into any family members or people I hadn’t seen for a while, it was like, “What do you want to be when you’re older?”
“What are you gonna do?:”
“How are your exams going?”
Expectations of yourself
And it was all this pressure of, I almost felt like everybody expected something of me, which, in return, made me expect something of myself. Well, if I don’t fulfill these things, I’m going to be a failure. And then, of course, when everybody thinks we’re going to be a failure, that’s what they expect to happen, we kind of create that. Until I was 18 and I ended up breaking my neck and ended up paralyzed, I expected my life to go a certain way. And then ever since then, whenever anybody hears about me breaking my neck, when I was at that age, they tend to look at the alternative or what might have happened. It’s almost like they expected a different life that would have been better or would have been like they say, “Well, you would have been really successful. You’d have had a family. You’d have been, done this, that and the other.”
And I’m like, “Well, how do you know? I could have been a real bum. I could have added up in a serious car accident and a week later, not even survived the following weeks.”
The thing is, we don’t know about what are the alternatives, but we have this image in our heads and the story in our heads of how things should be. I’ve got a daughter and for many years, I had a running narration in my head of how a daughter should be and what she should do and how she should show up and she had the same story in her head of how a dad should show up. And then when we don’t, we disappoint them. But the reality is, I don’t know how she wanted me to show up; I never asked her. I never said to her like, “Hello, Kim, you know, I’m your stepdad. How would you like me to be a stepdad? What would you like from me?” And vice versa. She’s never looked up and said to me, “Hey, I’m your daughter. How do you want me to show up? How would you like a daughter to be?”
Of course, it’s not a matter of how I want her to be and vice versa. But unless we tell our partners and relationships and family members, partly how we expect our interaction to be, they never know. It’s not about expecting them to be something different. It’s about respect for the relationship between. Because you’re in a relationship, whether it’s a friend, whether it’s just for half a second in that line, when you’re in the checkout here, every interaction with another person is a relationship. How do you expect that relationship to go? Even if it’s only for two seconds. So there’s nothing wrong with some expectations. It’s not a matter of just going, “Hey, I don’t expect nothing off anybody and my life will be happy.” It won’t be happy in that way.
We have the expectation of how life should be.
The expectations of how I am and how I should feel inside. In any given situation, I expect my body to react in a certain way and when it doesn’t, it annoys me, it frustrates me and ultimately gets me down. Or sometimes my body surprises me and reacts in a better way. And I’m like, “Wow, you dealt with it like a warrior.” You know, just last week I was starting to get a cold. My nose was tingling, you know that feeling when your nose, you just know there’s something lingering around. The back of your throat is slightly tingling, sore. So, you know you’ve got something, but you’re waiting for it to either disappear or go, boom! And just like, come out into a full-blown face cold. Well, my body fought it off. I’m okay this week. So it’s like, “Yes, nice one.” I was expecting a cold, I got something different; nice one.
Sometimes we go down this route of negativity and it’s very often negative.
We expect people and we expect our body to react negatively. So sometimes when it doesn’t, we should be really, really happy. And then we go on to traffic. We got a doctor’s appointment at 4:00 PM. It’s a 10-minute drive. So we started looking for the keys at 11 minutes to four, get in the car and drive away. We expect the traffic to be clear and open up and all the roads just magically empty just where we drive through. And then we have mixed feelings between, “Oh, I expected this”. Oh, did you really? Why didn’t you leave a little earlier? That’s my inner dialogue.
So you see, it’s all about wanting life to be different from what it is. And that’s what I mean by dropping expectations. ‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’ You know, when you set out on a journey, don’t expect a traffic jam or don’t expect clear roads, just accept what is going to be; maybe leave a little earlier, just in case. And then if you get there early, brilliant. If there is a traffic jam, brilliant. A little bit of timeout. And everything with expectations is we have this idea of when we go into a diet or when we start getting fitter, the first few days is like going really, really well and we feel the weight loss and we feel the body hurting and aching and growing. And then that expectation continues but it doesn’t.
The actual, the losing weight, and the body getting fitter tends to plateau after a few weeks. So we get fed up because our expectations are not moving. You know, I was expecting to go better. And then we go back into the old routines. Jeff Kinney says, “You can’t expect everyone to have the same dedication as you.” And that’s another thing. If you’re passionate about something, we almost expect other people to be passionate about it too. We want them to see the same in it as what you see in it. Well, luckily, not everybody does because everybody would have the same hobby, everybody would be doing the same things. That means my weird hobbies would be five times more expensive and they would not be weird anymore.
“Set the standard, stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment, and respect when you don’t even show that to yourself”, Steve Maraboli. And he’s absolutely right. We’re always wanting someone to give us something. In love; please, love me. You know, treat me with respect, please give me what I want, please fulfill my life and make me happy. And I know on the basis of that, you might think, no, I don’t think that, but we do really. We’re so annoyed when someone lets us down, I remember a couple friends of mine, they were together and they’ve been together about 12 months and it wasn’t the most, probably, progressive relationship. But I remember walking with the guy one day. We were walking the dog and he was telling me about the way he spent a whole day at home one day, fixing the carpet. I don’t know what was wrong with the carpet.
I don’t know how big a job it was, but he spent quite a while on his knees fixing the carpet. And he was waiting for his partner to come home and be really pleased. After all, it was a hard job and he’d been on his knees all day and he wasn’t getting any younger. And it was like a really good, and it was something she really wanted to be sorted and he got it sorted for her.
And she walked in and he said, “She did not even notice. She just stepped right over it, huffed and puffed. We barely spoke all evening and we went to bed. I just couldn’t believe it, I worked all day for that. I was on my knees, I was hurting, I could barely stand up and that’s the thanks I got.”
A few days later, I was with his partner. We were going for a walk and she said to me, “You know, Stevie, the other day I went out for work. I left home at 5:30 in the morning. I was at work all day. I did not go home until seven. I was so tired and I was so not good and literally nothing was done. The few cups and plates were all on the side. I don’t think he even went in the kitchen apart from, to make his sandwich and that was all left on the side, including the bread. He did do the carpet, I’ll give him that but really it was a 20-minute job. It really wasn’t much. And yes, I appreciate that but really? He was home all day and he did not do anything. He did not even take the washing off the line outside that was now wet and I had to do it. I go home at seven o’clock and he hadn’t even done his tea so I had to cook for him.”
And I tell that story because it’s perfect from both sides, where both of them were blinkered in seeing exactly what they wanted to see. During the day, they built up this image in their heads of what they expected their partner to do. And I asked her, “Did you ask him before you went to clean up and to do the dishes and I might not be home until seven, is it possible you could put something in the oven for tea?”
And she goes, “No, I shouldn’t have to.”
And I said to him, “Did you say to her, Oh, I’ve done the carpet today. Is there anything else that you’d like me to do or let her know what you have done?”
He said, “No, I shouldn’t have to. She should take notice.”
And here’s the problem. Unless we communicate, unless one tells the other what they’re expecting of them, don’t be mad when they don’t live up to your expectations because how can they know? How can they know when they are living up to them or not? But yet we feel as if we shouldn’t have to say. We feel as if they should know automatically. But just because you can see it doesn’t mean someone else can see it. And trust me, I have carers and every one of my carers does things very differently. One immediately sees when cups are left out, one will immediately see when the cup is not done. The other will immediately see when my clothes are dirty or I need everything’s done. Every single carer brings something different to the table, but the other ones cannot see what the other ones do. So every single carer tends to think that they’re the ones that do most, and they expect the other carers to fit in line and do what they do.
Well, I’m quite glad I’ve got different carriers that do different things because not one person does everything, somebody else would like, they all bring something different to the table and for that, I appreciate them. I never thought I’d need to tell them, but I do tell them now. I do point out when it was pointed out to me that they haven’t done this, or they haven’t done that. And I’m like, yes, but this is what they have done. And that’s very often, okay. It still doesn’t stop the frustration. So why do expectations block our inner peace? Well, it’s because there are expectations. Other people don’t care about our expectations that much. Yeah, that’s it, they care about our happiness.
Well, most people, if anybody is in your life, they normally care about your happiness. They may not care exactly what you’re expecting them to care about. And we get so annoyed when things are not the way we expect them to be. We set out in the car and we expect to have a nice, friendly, comfortable drive. When somebody cuts us off, somebody flips that middle finger in the window and is really rude to us and we’re mad because we were not expecting that and we don’t think we deserve that. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be annoyed, but what are you going to do with it? Are you going to carry that around or are you going to leave that expectation on the side of the road where it should be left?
So should we drop the expectations?
No. As I said, you know, sometimes in life, we need a little expectation. And if I pick up the phone, I expect the person on the other end of the phone to be at least polite. You may say, well, these are basic manners and basic morals and ethics. They might be, not everybody has them. If everybody knew about them, then nobody would be worried at all. So, yes, when I tell somebody in my life that this is how I’d like you to show up again and again and again, and explain the reason why then,, when they don’t, then you’ve got all right to be angry. But unless you tell them, unless you share your expectations and you could call these boundaries, you know, I’m caught in my expectations, but it’s boundaries or limits, or this is how far I’m willing to go.
My love doesn’t have conditions, but a relationship with me does. In a relationship, I expect communication the same as I would communicate with you. I would expect loyalty. I would expect you not to flirt with people beyond the boundary that we set in the relationship. But these are all things that have to be discussed beforehand. I’m not saying you’ve got to sit down and write a rule book, but there are some basic things that we should expect from a partner and these are what’s called healthy expectations. It’s the same as if you buy an item from a shop. If I went and bought a computer, I would expect it to work. If I paid an extra amount of money for a bit of software on the computer, I would expect that software to be on there and work. If I paid for someone to clear my chimney, or if I paid for someone to fit a carpet, I would expect them to do the job to a relatively high standard.
It’s okay to have expectations
So that’s okay. It’s okay to expect. It’s not okay to run around, jumping up and down and getting tizzy if people aren’t living up to your expectations when you haven’t even communicated that. Now, does this make sense? I hope this makes sense. So it’s the spiritual journey and the stillness in the storms of life. It’s all about not creating more pain or suffering, not just for others, but for yourself. One of the ways we can reduce this suffering is to reduce our expectations of others and recognize that they’re not you, they’re not the same person as you. They don’t have the same outlook, the same experience, the same, what you might say, common sense as you and that’s okay. I wouldn’t like a world full of 7 billion Stevens that would drive me insane. Variety makes the world go round. Apparently that’s probably a quote by someone and I don’t know who by.
Drop some of our expectations.
Have expectations of common courtesy and politeness. A mutual respect every time. Faithfulness in the relationship, things like that, but communicate. And you could even say, I know it’s a given when you get into a relationship or most relationships. Say that early on. Say, “If we’re going to get into a relationship, I’m a person that stays faithful and I would like you to as well. And if you don’t stay faithful, there will not be a second chance and it will be over. How does that sit with you?”
And if they’re like, “Oh, I don’t know about that. I think I deserve three chances.”
You could go, “Okay. Our expectations for a relationship are not in line.”
But they cannot blame you later for looking up and go, well, I only had an affair once. Your expectations are very high.”
And you said, “Well, I told you, it’s what it is.”
Softening your expectations
Just softening your expectations and recognizing they are not you, will make a lot of difference in your life. Try it just for the next few days. But drawing this podcast to a close, thank you for spending your time with me, I really appreciate it. And if you soften your expectations a little bit, you’ll realize your lifestyle [19:19unclear] your high opens and you become more vastness instead of the tight inner self that you are because that’s where all the pain is. There’s only that tense inner self or the happiness lies in the vastness of the sky. I’m Steven Webb, an inner peace guide. And I help you to go from rrh to aah, relaxing a little in life.
Outro: And if you head over to connect with steven.com, you can download my three meditations and you’ve got a link to my patron’s hype or you can support this podcast and you can help me grow and you can help me to promote it, help me to reach more people, that need a little inner peace in life. Thank you for spending your time here. Take care, love deeply. Namaste.