Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The first thing I did when I went on my 90 Day No Negativity Challenge was to stop complaining. When I complain or am around people who complain I feel snarky and dissatisfied with everyone and everything. I am not diggin’ myself and loving my life which is a complete and total bummer because I like diggin’ myself and loving my life. Complaining puts a damper on happiness. That includes complaining about what someone didn't do that I think they should have because I had an expectation about how they should behave. I got blindsided by that this week in a relatively minor way.
Andy plays the banjo at a jam I go to. He has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t like it when there is a lot of singing. He likes to play fiddle songs, you know songs without words and I like to sing, that would be songs that do have words. The last few weeks Andy has been kind of nice to me and by nice I mean not rude. So, when I ran into him at a jam this week I expected him to be nice again and guess what? He wasn’t. I’ll spare you the long and completely irrelevant details of it because the problem wasn’t what Andy said or did. It was my reaction and I wouldn’t have had a reaction at all if I didn’t have an expectation, an expectation by the way that I neglected to share with him. I guess he didn’t get the memo that said it was Be Nice to Debra Day.
Expectations are one of the ways we try to control our fears about the future. Go ahead and think about that for a minute or two. I know I had to. We mistakenly believe that people have to behave a certain way in order for us to be happy. Our happiness is not determined by what other people do or don’t do. Occasionally we need to be reminded of that, I do anyway. How many times have you been disappointed and gotten your panties in a twist because someone didn’t do what you expected them to do? They didn’t follow your unspoken rules and you felt justified in your self righteous indignation about their imagined ill will towards you. Trust me, most of the time it has nothing to do with you. There are no victims here. You’re getting that right? One of the greatest gifts we give someone is the freedom to be who they are. When we stop trying to manage the future by imposing rigid rules called expectations on it we are liberated from our fears if only for a moment.
A good teacher will tell you that the key to learning is repetition. The more you do something the easier it gets. This week I got to practice releasing the expectations I have about Andy and everyone else in the process. I can state a preference and make a choice but no one owes me anything. The world is a gift as it is, and Andy is part of my world. When I released my expectations about him, both good and bad I was left with peace and greater compassion for both of us. There is a place of all of us in this world. We are each and everyone one of us a gift to each other and the world but only if we don’t let expectation get in the way. It’s either fear or love, baby.