فصل 08

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فصل 08

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Chapter 8

“I expect nothing and accept everything.”

“Stop doing all that shit you know you shouldn’t be doing and start doing all the shit you know you should be doing.”

Firstly, do not be deceived by the title of this chapter. There is something truly amazing for you to discover in the following pages.

Imagine this.

You’ve always dreamed of starting your own business—being your own boss, controlling your own schedule and really building something you can be proud of, something you can point to as a major life accomplishment.

Through a combination of hard work, determination and solid planning, you’ve managed to organize your life in such a way that this dream of yours can now become a reality.

You’ve already come up with a great business idea, hired a company to create a cool logo and branding and now it’s time to get to work. Here’s where the fun begins…

You’ll need a store, of course. And that’s the first task you tackle, spending the next week driving around town, scouting locations and negotiating with real estate agents.

It’s not easy, but you finally find what you think is a pretty good location, for a pretty good price. There was another place you really had your eye on, but you couldn’t make it work within the budget.

There’s a few other things to get taken care of, like property insurance, a business license, and setting up your taxes. Even though you’ve yet to make a dollar, you’ve already had to hire an accountant to help you sort through those complicated business taxes.

Oh well, on to the next project. Your store will need furniture and other necessary equipment, so you shop around to get a rate on that. Another thing off the checklist.

Obviously you’ll need someone to work there, too. Time to hire some employees. Check.

It’s all going pretty well until…BOOM! That deal you had fought for and ground out to secure the unique product you were planning to sell fell through and now you have to look for alternatives. SHIT! Your heart sinks and breathing shallows as you frantically search out wholesalers, importers, manufacturers—anyone who can help—and start asking for quotes.

The only problem is; the new prices you’re being quoted are way beyond your pricing model. How can you make this thing work? You tirelessly continue searching but keep coming up zero after zero after zero. This is fast becoming a disaster!

You’ve already invested massive amounts of time and resources into this and now you’ve hit a big fat road block. You’re realizing now that you should have seen this coming. This is business; stuff is bound to go wrong. The cascading stream of doubt and second-guessing washes through your brain with a heavy rinse cycle of reality.

“Dammit this was going too smoothly; I just knew something like this would happen!!”

This feeling builds and grows until it starts to pull you under. Setting up a business means risking everything you’ve ever worked for. Is it even worth it? You’ve got bills for the love of God!

Now that you really think about it, you’ve spent more time working on this project than you did at your last job. A LOT more. I mean come on, it’s been day and night with hardly a breath. You have less control of your time than you ever did before. Your every thought, second and dollar has been geared toward this thing. Why did you ever think it was better to work for yourself?

This isn’t what you signed up for, is it? Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. You’re starting to feel a little darker and more depressed while you start to confront the gut-churning possibility that you might lose all that investment and wind up having to crawl back to your old boss to ask if you can return to your old job.

WHOOOAAAAA!!!!!

Easy tiger! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back.

EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED

What’s really going on here?

It’s simple. You, like everybody else, are weighed down by expectation.

I’m not talking about the usual kind of everyday expectations you’re aware of. It’s also not like we’re literally saying to ourselves, “I expect this” or “I expected that” in a conscious way. It’s something that’s happening just below the surface, where you’ll only see it if you take the time to look closely.

No, I’m talking about the ugly, undermining, hidden and treacherous expectations that dwell in the wings and under the stage of your Broadway blockbuster. The kind of expectations you didn’t even know you had until they came out of nowhere and blindsided you and sucked the air from your lungs.

When you and I take on a life-changing project, we prepare for it from what we know. That includes items from our own experience, what we’ve read, heard and imagined. We start to picture it in our minds. We research, we ask others for their opinions, and consume reams of information. We begin to assemble an idea of what this will look like and how we’re going to get there. That image in our heads becomes the template from which we work and plan.

What we don’t see is that we’re also setting up a world of hidden expectations—the cracks and crevices hidden in the foundation of our best-laid plans that can kill off a potential idea before it really gets going. In our business example, our budding entrepreneur “didn’t expect” to lose his deal for product and while losing that deal was bad enough, the interruption to his expectation was actually the biggest blow to his aspirations.

How do you know if you have hidden expectations in your life? If you have places in your life where you experience disappointment, resentment, regret, suppression, anger, lethargy, essentially anywhere you are deflated or have some loss of your personal chutzpah or any other suppressive emotion, you have these expectations. Any place where you’re just not yourself, if you look at these places long enough, you’ll see the reality of that area of your life is some way short of the scenario you had anticipated in your mind’s eye. If you have upset in your marriage, you’ll see a gap between your expectation between how is was “supposed” to be and how it in fact is. For others it might be your finances, your weight loss, new job, etc.

Your powerlessness is directly correlated to the gap between your hidden expectations and your reality. The greater the gap, the worse you’ll actually feel.

I read somewhere that the root cause of upset in marriage is unmet expectation.

I think it goes out further, much further. I say the problem is expectation itself. I contend that the upsets strewn throughout your entire life are a product of thousands of unspoken or unrecognized expectations that cast a giant shadow across your life experience; causing great stress when you’re trying to make life fit with your expectations and great disappointment when life doesn’t match up to them.

Here’s what else they do, they actually get in the way of our real lives, our real issues and items that require attention. They are like a mirage that diverts us from our genuine power and clouds our ability to take pronounced, decisive action. In short, you end up working on your expectations and having life line up with them rather than taking the actions that would positively impact your situation. This “sidetracking” draws all of your power away from what’s actually going to improve your life or accomplish your goal, down a pathway of no power, no results and wasted time.

CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE MAN OF EXPECTATION

Now that we’ve busted our problems with expectations wide open, you’ll start to realize something. And that’s that many of the difficulties and complications in your life are the direct result of expectations that you have or have had.

We’ve been using an example of a business plan gone wrong, but, in your own life, your failed relationships, dissatisfaction with work, and abandoned diets can be traced right back to expectation. How many times have you said to yourself, “This isn’t how I thought it would be”?

What about the last time you were angry with someone? Can you remember it?

Take a moment to examine that situation, and you’ll soon realize that your anger was a product of expectations. The gap between how it is and how it should have been. You harbor an unspoken expectation that people in your life will be agreeable, you expect them to tell the truth, and follow through on any agreements you have with them. Expect, expect, expect. And when they don’t match those expectations? Oh boy!

“This is all great and good, Mr. Scottish-man but how in the hell do I uncover my hidden expectations?”

Easy. Pick an area of your life in which things aren’t going as well as you’d like them to, maybe even somewhere in your life that sucks right now. Take a pen and piece of paper and write out how that area was “supposed” to turn out. How had you planned it?

How should have this gone? You might have to use your imagination and sense of wonder to get in touch with how the future looked from back there. Get in touch with the hope and positivity of that area and where it was supposed to head. Describe it in as much detail as you can possible recall.

Next, on a separate piece of paper, write down how this area actually looks. Again, make this an exhaustive description not just “it sucks”. Get into detail about why it is the way it is and what you now have to deal with. How do you feel now that this part of your life did not meet your expectations?

Now, look at both pieces of paper side by side. Your pain, anguish, disappointment (or whatever your thing is), is greater in the areas where the gap is widest between what you expected and what you actually have. In there are your hidden expectations. Do the work here until you fully uncover the expectations you had inadvertently set yourself up for.

Good, now look again. In what way does how you feel about this make a difference to your reality? Does it make it any better? Does it solve your issue? Hell no, it makes no positive difference whatso-freakin-ever! It even makes it WORSE!

Your problems don’t derail you, your hidden expectations do!

The point here is that the “expectation” of how life should be doesn’t do you any good. You’re actually more winded by the whack your expectations took than the situation itself and that’s the deal with expectations, they blow things out of proportion and dilute your power to deal with issues effectively and powerfully. Listen, it’s not like I’m saying something radically new here, the notion of “letting go” of expectations has been around for thousands of years although in our culture (that of the West), it’s a practice very few engage in.

Here’s the coaching – CUT IT OUT! Let go of those expectations NOW!

It’s much more powerful to come to terms with life’s unpredictability and to engage with your circumstances for what they actually are than get bogged down by your refusal to let go of unnecessary or unproductive expectations.

The world revolves around change. Birth and death, growth and destruction, rise and fall, summer and winter. It’s never the same from one day to another no matter how much it might seem that it is.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice…”

  • Heraclitus

Our minds would love to predict and plan for everything that’s going to happen. But it’s simply not possible. And these expectations not only have a negative effect on our emotional state, they actually leave us less powerful than we really could be.

It’s so much more effective to simply take things as they present themselves, to live in the moment (like there’s another moment you could live in), and solve issues and items as they arise, than to constantly expect.

It’s not that I’m anti-planning, (I most certainly am not), but the stone-cold attachment to the plan, (and all the expectation therein), is a little like falling out of a row-boat and continuing to row even though you have no oars and no boat under you anymore. Your plan (and image) of how this should have gone is no longer relevant but yet you still struggle to reconcile the space between your expectations and reality.

Life can be like that at times. On some occasions you have to realize that the game has changed (sometimes dramatically so) and you need to pivot. Deal with your reality.

Wake up, you’re in the water. Stop waving your arms about and paddle to shore dammit!

LIFE IS MORE OF A DANCE THAN A MARCH

Our mind has all kinds of automatic thought processes that we don’t even know are going on. Expectations are just one of them, albeit an important one.

Here’s the harsh truth about how our brain works.

We all like to believe in something called “free will”. It’s one of those concepts that really speaks to who we are as human beings. I mean, let’s be honest, if we don’t have free will, what in the hell do we have?

We value the notion that we freely choose what we do, and when to do it. We want to feel that we control our own fate and shape our own destiny.

But when our minds are ruled by these automatic thought processes, do we really have free will? Many would argue that we don’t. Listen, here’s how much free will you have – stop doing all that shit you know you shouldn’t be doing and start doing all the shit you know you should be doing. All of it.

This free will stuff isn’t so easy now is it!?

“No man is free who is not master of himself.”

  • Epictetus

Because, as we’ve talked about throughout this book, even when you feel yourself making a conscious decision, there are a series of unconscious thought processes that are driving that choice. Things you don’t even see or acknowledge.

People are much more irrational and illogical than we realize. In many cases, our subconscious is the puppet master that truly pulls the strings.

Fortunately, you can take back your freedom to choose. And that’s by understanding how your mind works, seeing what it’s doing as it does it, and being able to use that information to cognitively choose something else. To make conscious that which is currently unconscious.

Expectations are just one of these things.

WHEN LIFE IS APPROPRIATE

“I expect nothing and accept everything.” This is your final personal assertion.

Let me get clear about this one. This is not some meek, weak, submission to life. No, this is the statement of a masterful celebrant of success, someone who cannot be dominated by anyone or anything.

When you expect nothing, you’re living in the moment. You’re not worrying about the future or rejecting the past. You’re simply embracing your situation as it comes. When you accept everything, that doesn’t mean you are ok with it or that you agree with it, but simply that you are owning it and in charge of it. Remember you can always change something when you can take ownership and responsibility for it. Sometimes it’s the single most effective way of resolving your “stuff.” Own it!

“Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.”

  • Epictetus

The next time you catch yourself getting brought down by your expectations, shift things in a different direction. Instead of getting your knickers in a twist about how things didn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected them to, simply accept them for what they are. In that moment you are now freed up to deal with them.

“This is appropriate.” When you’re having growing pains at your new job, take a step back and realize how appropriate that really is. Of course a new job is going to take some getting used to, whether it’s the tasks you’re performing or the people you work with. It’s therefore entirely appropriate to make a few mistakes or tread carefully as you try to get to know your new colleagues. The expectations dissolve right there, immediately.

If your relationship is struggling, change your perspective and get the whole picture. What are your expectations?

Many of us expect our partners to be a certain way consistently, or to anticipate our needs and know exactly what we’re feeling, as if by magic. But your partner, like you, is an imperfect human with his or her own set of complicated emotions and thoughts. So it’s appropriate that they may sometimes be distracted or get short with you after a bad day.

We often expect other people to treat us exactly as we treat them. If we do them a favor, we expect to get the same favor back in return. It becomes an unspoken “debt” of sorts. When we give our partner a foot massage, we expect them to reciprocate either directly or indirectly. Those expectations grow both in weight and complexity in an intimate or romantic relationship.

You won’t believe how much your interactions with other people will improve the moment you let go of expecting, the instant you learn to accept things as they happen.

Again, this doesn’t mean you need to put up with shitty or abusive relationships. But the only thing more unpredictable than one person is two unpredictable people. If you are in one of those kinds of relationships, it’s time for you to invoke the boat analogy. Stop rowing, the game has changed, shift your plan. Your partners, friends, and family members all have their own desires, perceptions, and feelings. While you’re thinking one thing, they’re more than likely thinking something completely different. That thing that’s got you feeling pissed may not have even registered on their radar. They could be completely oblivious to what’s going on with you.

Instead of silently expecting something and feeling slighted when it doesn’t happen, let go of that expectation. If there’s something you want, how about asking for it with no expectation? And when you do something positive or generous, do it because you genuinely want to rather than loading in the added weight of what you expect in return.

That game of tit for tat only hurts you both in the long run.

If it’s something serious that consistently challenges the relationship, confront the other party about it. Don’t expect them to realize how you feel or, by the same token, expect them to be able to change how you feel. They can’t. Only you can do that.

People are always going to lie, steal, cheat, and everything else one can imagine. It’s just not connected to reality to live in the expectation that they somehow won’t and then throw a hissy fit when they do it anyway. Remember, in those cases, you always end up worse off than they do! Much worse!

You end up sticking yourself with resentment, regret, anger or frustration. Remember, they’re not doing that to you, you’re doing that part to yourself! You really can accept things for what they are. It doesn’t mean you condone them or that you won’t decisively change them, this is about becoming masterful with your mind and your emotional state. It’s about quieting the mind and allowing yourself to act with power in the situations of your life rather than succumbing to your internal and external upsets.

EXPECT NOTHING, ACCEPT EVERYTHING

None of this means you can’t plan, or that I’m telling you to walk through life aimlessly without direction

or goals.

But when you make a plan, what do you have to gain from being welded to the expectations inherent in it? Nothing. When you are free from its expectations you are “in a dance” with life where you can simply execute the plan, and deal with what happens.

If it succeeds, you can celebrate. If it fails, you can re-calibrate.

Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat. The expectation of people loving you or respecting you or a pointless exercise too. Be free to love them the way they are and be loved the way that they love you. Free yourself from the burden and melodrama of expectation, let the chips fall where they may.

Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have.

“I expect nothing and accept everything.” This simple personal assertion gets you out of your head and powerfully into your life, out of your thoughts and into your reality. Problems, barriers, disagreements and disappointments are all part of every human beings’ life.

Your job is to not get caught up in that crap, to stay out of the swamp of mediocrity and drama, to reach for your greatest self, your greatest potential and to challenge yourself to live that life every single day of it.

Your life, your success, your happiness, really is in your own hands. The power to change, the power to let go, be adventurous and embrace your potential all lies within your reach. Remember, no one can save you, no one can shift you, all of that is your responsibility and what better time to embrace that change than now?

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