Expectations: Letting Go of Outcomes.

Expectations: Letting Go of Outcomes.

|This will be the first of a few posts on expectations. So I will start with a general discussion.|

Mindfulness of Expectations.

Practicing Mindfulness and Minimalism have made me realise how many things I need to let go of.So many are in the mind. Every time I hit a roadblock it is because of an idea I am clinging to. Anxiety is my biggest mental challenge. When I am anxious I try to watch my mind and body without judgement or making up a story about the feeling. And this helps immensely. Until I anticipate the next thing… Then it reappears. Then it fades and I anticipate.
I started thinking I should let go of anticipation but I realised that the root here was not the anticipation (although ‘anticipation’ definitely means I am not being mindful of that moment in the moment and so it is something to let go of.) I realised that the problem was my expectation of the outcome of whatever was happening whether good or bad.
So when I notice anxiety or excitement now I try to watch what the mind is expecting and let go of the expectation. Expectations will still arise but we can notice them and let them go. Specifically letting go of the outcome.
When we have an expectation it means we have an idea of an outcome and think or wish it to be a certain way. We try to control things in our future or as they occur.
In this way we are identifying ourselves with results. We are imposing our hopes on outcomes and trying to predict the future as though it were fixed.
This sets us up for frustration, demotivation, delusion, disappointment, suffering, heartbreak, feeling sorry for ourselves, underestimation, overestimation, narcissism, perfectionism, anxiety… The list gets longer the more one thinks about it.

Anticipation

Whenever the feeling of anxiety or excitement arises in us it is in anticipation of a certain expectation we hold.
We can become fixated on outcomes. In small ways – like how my next sip of tea will taste- and in big ways – like expecting someone to be your perfect partner and to make you whole and marry you before the age of 30.
What breaks us is our rigid mindset. We get so invested in these outcomes and when things change – even slightly – we can’t cope.
Whether we are expecting good things or bad things, we are expecting something from most situations.
Good expectations provide excitement and bad expectations give us anxiety. It is the anticipation of these expected results that are the feeling of excitement or anxiety.
We expect things to turn out a certain way or people to act or react a certain way.
Many of our decisions are based on our expectations of how other people will receive it. And many of our decisions are based on our expectations of other people’s expectations.
Excitement is when you are anticipating positive results.
When your positive expectations are realised, you feel good temporarily. If they are not you feel disappointed or unsatisfied. We can often have such high expectations that we will never be satisfied. This leads to feelings of frustration or even unhappiness.
Anxiety is a state where you are anticipating negative results.
When negative expectations are realized, you feel justified. If not, you feel relieved temporarily. Often you don’t even see that things are better than expected or you start expecting the next negative result.
When we are caught in the anticipation of expectations we miss out on reality on what is truly happening. We are not mindful of the moment.
All of this does not mean that we do not have goals, make plans or set intentions.

Confusing goals with Outcomes

A painting I was working on was frustrating me so much because I had invested in an expectation of what it should be. This perfectionism and obsession with the outcome paralysed me for months. And in the end: I was disappointed with it. As I always have been. I was dissapointed in myself. Why did I always feel this way about my work?
I became so fascinated by this question. After thinking about it for weeks it dawned on me: I always confuse the outcome with the goal. I associate myself and my worth with the result. Every single time. And the expectation of this was paralizing me and keeping me from my goal.
It seems like we confuse goals with results, outcomes and expectations.
A goal should not be a fixture. It should be a direction to move towards. If we can let go of outcomes and our expectations: we free ourselves from being disappointed or disheartened or even overly confident or righteous. The goal is still there no matter what the outcome. The intention is still set in the direction of our goal and the plan can change. We can get up and try again.
When you let go of the outcome you are free to work toward your goal.
It means that you can respond instead of react in changing situations. The world is in flux and we need to be flexible. If we let go of expectations we are flexible and open.
You can be calm.
You can be happy.
birds
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| Minimalism | how our journey is progressing and what now?

Things seem to have started slowing down a little after our initial feverish and frenzied start a few weeks ago. But we are still going strong. One step at a time.
Mastering our money matters:
We hope to have our car sold this week. This will be the biggest relief financially as well as mentally. We will be spending much less per month on payments and fuel.  As a bonus our carbon footprint will be much lighter too.
We have also sold things like a guitar and keyboard and some other smaller items. These have brought in a bit of cash and we have paid it into our debt.
The biggest change we have made so far is that we are not purchasing new things – except for food and amenities. We have also been using cash to do our shopping. This means having an exact grasp of how much money you have and what things cost. Surprisingly this has not necessarily meant that we shop for the cheapest items . It is entirely possible to do shopping with very limited cash and still balance quantity and quality. It means getting only the essentials. So often that would still be quality items. So we still buy fresh produce for instance but we are limiting the waste. (Nothing that will go off in the time it would take us to consume it.)
This has meant steering clear of buy in bulk bargains and three for two deals (unless it is storage-friendly). Often these deals only mean you are paying more money because you end up throwing so much away. Sometimes buying the smaller amount of carrots for more money per item is the better deal.
You also find yourself being more creative with what is already in your food cupboards. You end up finally using those dried beans, quinoa or risotto rice hiding in the dark corners behind the cereal.
Decluttering strategies for difficult items: 
Decluttering has brought on a few bumps in the road. This week I found myself needing and looking for things… then realising I had thrown them out a couple of weeks ago (in the frenzy phase).
I have had a very strict ongoing ’keep it or toss it’ policy. Very black and white. But I realise that this has been a bit hasty and harsh.
Yesterday one of my friends suggested to me  that I make three piles instead of two.
* a definite keep pile
* a ’not sure’ pile
* a definitely throw out (or gift, donate or sell) pile
She explained that she does this regularly (every few weeks) and if she has not decided by the next decluttering what to do with items in the ‘not sure’ pile she throws them out.
This seems obvious and much saner than my attempt.
Originally I didn’t want to even give myself a ‘not sure’ or ‘maybe’ option for fear that this would allow me to re-establish my misguided relationship with the objects. But this was not the kindest way of dealing with myself. So I am now going to apply this new strategy from now on and will report back on its efficacy.
I also love jasminkrat’s post IS IT WORTH KEEPING? She has a very effective list of questions to ask oneself when deciding about difficult items and it may makethe choice between keeping something or not a much easier one. I will be incorporating these questions to help me along too.
to keep or not to keep...
to keep or not to keep…
Minimalism is an incredible journey so far. It is amazing how little we know about the items we surround ourselves with. We seem to misinterpret our relationships to and with them. What a hold they seem to have on us and yet it is all projected onto them by us. This journey is teaching me so much and promises to continue doing so.