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The flip side of your own expectations



A strong believe that something will happen or be the case

Based on that definition, a dictionary definition, expectations are a good thing to have, an especially valuable tool in your manifestation toolkit. In fact more than a tool. A necessity many might say. A positive mindset and belief system is a great thing to have...... believing in ourselves and our potential and possibility is incredibly powerful.

But is there a flip side, is there a possible downside to having expectations?

I say yes there is, or at least there can be!! And many times this 'other side of the coin' can actually contribute to our negative experiences or our negative perception of our experiences.

What happens when our expectations are outdated but still strong, what happens when our expectations are about other people and they don't play the game? What happens when our determination to hang on to our expectations mean we can't see the positive around us?

Let me explain by sharing with you a recent experience of mine.

My daughter is in Year 12, her final year of high school. In year 10 we picked her subjects and planned her academic path for her Senior Certificate. We decided which 'path' she would take, what subjects she would study.

Lillee has always worked hard. I often catch myself saying or more likely thinking of her as an 'A' student. This isn't entirely true, she has a does get some 'A's but really she is more of a solid 'B' student I guess. Funny when she got those first few 'A's our expectation of her became 'A's. I didn't realise this but it did, our expectations shifted, 'B's no longer felt so good, 'A's were the new yardstick I guess.

This expectation of her getting 'A's very quietly took a place in my being and in hers, we didn't talk about it but regardless less than an 'A' seemed to became, well, not a failure at all but not very exciting, not really something to be celebrated. I am digressing though, this wasn't the point of my writing.

In year 10 we decided the path she would take to complete her schooling and in turn lead her to University or onto whatever future she would decide. The expectation of how she would navigate school academically took up home in our minds. Actually maybe I should be more specific, or more honest, it took up residence in my mind.

The senior years are a two year journey and Lillee's journey began as we probably expected, she did well, she worked hard. There were some disappointments which only materialised as disappointments because we had come to 'expect' 'A's . During term one of year 11 'B's were quite regular. We didn't panic though, she was going to work harder, she still had time.

Then I became unwell and was hospitalised, an ambulance was called in the middle of the night and the kids, including Lillee, witnessed me being rushed to hospital. They saw me hospitalised 3 or 4 times in the following months, they saw me code blued, they saw me weak and struggling, they were faced with the real possibility that their Mother might die. I can never know what the kids really felt and experienced during these times but for a child seeing their Mother gravely ill has an effect and that effect is generally not positive. They all process it differently, some inwardly and personally.

Towards the later half of the year Lillee started to become unwell, we thought run down. She was tired and just not feeling herself. This seemed understandable, she was busy, school, dance, work, etc and she had had an emotional year to date. Then she started falling to sleep in the car on the way to school and I don't mean just dozed off, we would get to school and I would struggle to wake her. This ended up being Glandular Fever, probably not surprising, and it lead to CMV and Viral Overload Syndrome.

As a result of her health she had the entire Term 4 off school. She missed 1/4 of Year 11!!!

Right at the end of the school year my Grandmother passed away after a cancer journey which she had been on during the same time I had been unwell. All of my children, including Lillee, were very close to my Grandmother, their great Grandmother, and they had closely witnessed her journey.

I am sure, if you have got this far, you are getting the picture that Year 11 was a challenge for Lillee.

We went into this year, Year 12, hoping for a smoother ride for her and I personally didn't really consider much else. She would go to school, work hard and the plan was the same.

It didn't take long to see though that her confidence had taken a hit. She was starting to really worry about her ability to pass Year 12, she felt behind, this is something we had never really considered.

She came home and stated that she wanted to change subjects, to drop her Senior English and do English Communication. Without going into details for those who aren't familiar with the QLD Senior Certificate this would mean changing her whole academic and graduation pathway and it would effect her ability to get into University.

I am not proud to say this now but I hope by sharing it you may learn from it...... I didn't respond very well!

To begin with I ignored pleas or at least diminished in my mind her level of stress. I insisted that she consider staying true to the original plan. I tried to come up with reasons and ways she could continue with Senior English and continue on this more 'academic' path. I found all the possible downsides in her proposal and all the upsides in mine. I hung onto the fact she was 'academic' and capable and should therefore keep following the academic path.

I listened to her but I didn't listen to hear her, I listened in order to formulate my own response so I could convince her to stick to the plan....... so she would continue to meet my expectations.

Yes my expectations!!

One night after a particularly fiery conversation about her choices I was sitting reflecting and after mentally justifying all my points of view I asked myself "Why am I so reluctant to allow her to change paths?"

You see we had rung the University and spoken at length to the school. These conversation had assured us that there were other paths available and she could still reach her end goal it just might be a little more protracted and not quite as straight forward but it was certainly achievable.

So why was I still hanging onto the belief that she was better off sticking with the original plan, the plan devised 18 months earlier and at a time we could have had no way of knowing the 12 months she would go through?

Why was I still determined to convince her to stick with her academic pathway and do the subjects that were causing her stress?

I did the only thing I could think of, I journaled, and if I am honest I have to say I journaled with the intent of clarifying my opinion so I could once again set about convincing her I was right!!

Strange thing was instead of clarifying or strengthening my position all I came up with as I sat and journaled was 'expectations' expectations.

I went around in circles for while, hoping or expecting that I would eventually get to the good bits, the bits that would 'sell' my position and opinion.

Then I realised.

I was being held prisoner in a way to my expectations.

I expected Lillee to get an OP.

I expected Lillee to do certain subjects.

I expected Lillee to take a particular path.

I expected Lillee to get certain marks.

I expected Lillee to work hard enough to succeed.

It was all about me and my expectations.

What I had to realise and accept was that this situation wasn't about me.

This was Lillee's journey.

This was Lillee's decision.

She had listened to me but had I really listened to her??

And the big one........ I was trying everything I could to ensure the situation lived up to my expectations.

My expectations that were set in the past, that didn't take everything that had occurred into account.

I was feeling let down thanks to my expectations not thanks to Lillee. Not thanks to the school who I had lashed out at!! Not even thanks to myself and my own health, which I was beating myself up about!!!

Once I let go of my expectations it was like taking the blinkers off. Suddenly I could see the whole picture. A picture we hadn't planned but sometimes you can't plan everything, it was still a picture full of hope and options.

In fact when I really looked at it this picture almost felt brighter, more full of potential or opportunity.

Dropping that one subject and changing her path meant she become determined to do as well as she could in all her subjects rather than feeling beaten and like a guaranteed failure.

She could now enjoy more of the 'Year 12' experience.

She was also freer to focus on continuing to improve her health.

And, as a result of this new plan, she decided that next year she wanted to do a tertiary preparation program at the University close to us, a program I had really wanted her to consider but up until now she hadn't thought necessary.

The other huge benefit was that after a year of feeling like her whole world was out of control, out of her control, that everything was just happening to her, she finally felt she had some control.

All of these were positives and none of them were possible until I let go of my expectations.

Sometimes life grows outside of our expectations and in order to enjoy that, to benefit from it we must first let go of our expectations.

Positive expectations can bolster our confidence, help us with our persistence and motivation, help us hold a vision in our minds, energetically keep us on course and assist us with manifestation.


But ........

Can these same expectations imprison us?

Can we become 'stuck' in our expectations and not see changing opportunities or landscapes around us and within our experience.

I had decided and accepted my expectation of Lillee's senior study years ago and while I thought I was encouraging her to be her best and helping her through inevitable times of doubt and challenge by seeing her in this way I was in fact just stuck in and limited by my expecation.

I needed to release my expectation to see all that was possible ............ to see a bigger more holistic picture.


I was imprisoned by my expectations and for a while there I did my best to drag Lillee into that prison!!


When I realised it was time to let go of my expectations and allow the journey to unfold I freed both of us. I freed myself from disappointment and anger, both of which I had felt, and I freed Lillee to create her path, to pave her way and to step into her future in the way she could envision and manage.  


Are your expectations holding you back??

I needed to release my expectation to see all that was possible ............ to see a bigger more holistic picture.

I was imprisoned by my expectations and for a while there I did my best to drag Lillee into that prison!!

When I realised it was time to let go of my expectations and allow the journey to unfold I freed both of us. I freed myself from disappointment and anger, both of which I had felt, and I freed Lillee to create her path, to pave her way and to step into her future in the way she could envision and manage.  

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