How to get rid of expectations...

Not really sure what I will gain from this thread… but I ask the dopers… how do you get rid of expectations? I have certain expectations about life, work, relationships, etc… My current issue is about releasing expectations in the realm of relationships. If you have been in a relationship where you had expectations - how did you get rid of them? Or more importantly, how did you handle having hopes of a future and then just “let go” and see where things take you? I’m having difficulties just seeing how things turn out. Has anyone been in my place? Where they just had to sit back and relax? Just let things land where they were meant to land? Any pointers or suggestions on how to just sit back and relax would be GREATLY appreciated!

This is an awesome meditative technique:

Pick a seating arrangement and a location that is comfortable to you. This is most important, because if you are uncomfortable, you won’t be able to relax. Light some candles if you want. As long as you are comfy and secure. I enjoy sitting Indian style, but you might want to lie down. Close your eyes.

I’ve found that the easiest way to enter a meditative state of relaxation and mindfulness is to visualize your breathing. Inhale a long, big deep breath, so that your chest (not your tummy) expands and you feel your lungs inflate. As you do this, picture your open mouth inhaling beautiful blue streams of light, or whatever color you like that represents purity or cleansing. For now, just work on that image of breathing in pure, clean, refreshing air.

When you exhale slowly, visualize yourself breathing out noxious black clouds of toxins.

Do this for a while - maybe ten minutes. As you become more fluent with the images of inhaling purity and exhaling filth, attach a value to those images. Inhaling - what do you want to bring into your life? Peace, happiness, joy? Imagine the sound of laughter entering you, or imagine people smiling. Exhale your parents yelling at you, or an image of someone who angers you, but also concentrate on the higher value - you are exhaling anger, not just one person you dislike. The longer you practice the first visualizations, the easier it will be to overlap the images.

Now: letting go, releasing expectations. After you have done this breathing exercise for a long time (maybe half an hour - when you feel ready) concentrate on the one thing that you feel you absolutely must have in your life - a wedding proposal, a lover, money. It helps, as before, to assign one image to the idea of what you want. A ring, you sleeping soundly in bed with someone you desire, or dollar bills. Then focus on that thing in the palm of your hand. Savor how it feels to have it: how satisfying it is, how complete you feel, how happy you are that it is in your life. Imagine what will happen now - a wedding, great sex, a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. Immerse yourself in the feeling of happiness and joy that this thing is yours now. Imagine that thing entering you like beautiful blue light - inhale it deep into your lungs, inhale all those amazing feelings.

Then imagine that you are going to drop it, or that it’s going to slide through your fingers. Visualize yourself still possessing it, but embrace the fear of knowing it won’t be yours much longer. Immerse yourself in the feelings of despair, horror, worthlessness, shame, and rage you will feel when it is gone. Let all that negativity rise up in you, and visualize it as a noxious black cloud you are about to release. Exhale those hateful feelings when you are ready.

You still hold it in your palm. Drop it. Make a conscious decision to let go of it. Watch it fall away. Keep breathing those same images - inhale purity, exhale toxins. Feel the peace and calm those images bring you. Acknowledge that you will be okay without it, that you made the decision that you don’t need it and now that you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. Whenever you are ready, open your eyes and breathe deeply, quickly, to center yourself.
The Buddha teaches that wants - prosperity, love, peace, happiness - are all states of mind. If you let go of your desire for what you want, what you need will visit you in abundance.

** Nacho4Sara ** thank you so much for posting! I will definitely try those breathing techniques that you have described. My question to you - how do you do this in the middle of the day - when things are crazy around you? I definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness to respond and any suggestions you may have. Thanks again a million times over!

Yep. I have a situation at work that’s forcing me to do that. (I have to wait for someone else to make a decision that will affect me fairly seriously and may cause me to look for a new job). While I’m waiting for resolution, I’m trying to learn as much as I can. I haven’t exactly let go of my expectations, but I’ve decided that being patient and enjoying what I’m doing now will help me to not lose my mind. I think you can apply that tactic to relationships, too. In either case, it’s hard work, but hopefully worth it in the end. Good luck!

I started meditating at night, at home, where I was most comfortable. Once you do it often enough (at least half an hour a day for me), you are able to easier switch your mind into meditate-mode. The first five or so times I meditated, I didn’t feel much of anything during or after, but as I became accustomed to the breathing exercises (blue in, black out is my standard), I was also able to do it anywhere. I just close my eyes, tune out, and do it in the middle of class. I did it a lot at my old job, when my psychotic boss started hectoring me - I was able to ignore her completely and relax myself. Meditation has also helped me with my insomnia - I hardly ever rely on sleeping pills these days.

I hope I don’t sound like a nutjob, but meditation really has allowed me to let go of most of my expectations. I used to have a huge problem with picturing exactly how things should go in a perfect world - and of course nothing ever worked out like that, so I was always crushed. But now I use those visualization techniques, and I am, for the most part, able to turn off my expectations. Then I am truly joyous when something good happens - because it’s a surprise!

For instance, I have a long commute every day to school and back, and I go through a tollbooth that gets horribly congested. In the spirit of positive karma, I used to occasionally pay for the person behind me. But I would always think - is the person in front of me ever going to pay my toll?! And it never happened, so I would get completely disappointed over something that wasn’t at all worth my energy. Finally, I just meditated on the root cause - that I expected people to always be as nice to me as I was to them, and thus prevented myself from enjoying the beauty of doing nice things, without expectation of return. Recently, someone paid for me for the first time ever, and because I didn’t want it or expect it, I was happy for the rest of the day.

That’s just a simple example, because I have to constantly work on ending my expectations for the bigger things - love, happiness, what have you. Start small, and work your way up to the biggies.

You might want to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse to learn more about Buddhist philosophy - it’s a quick read, and it gets to the heart of the steps of mindfulness. I’ve also found that Thich Nhat Hanh writes the most accessible books on encorporating the tenets of Buddhism into your life. The Miracle of Mindfulness is world-reknowned, for good reason.

Another book that talks about this subject is called “Whereever you go, there you are.” Excellent book, written in a very easy to read manner.

Thanks for the book ideas. As it turns out - I may not have to let go of my expectations in this matter. I believe they have been let go for me. In other words - the relationship in question is now in question. :frowning:

Guess the question now stands at … how to mend a broken heart.

Skittles- What’s going on? Email me if you want. I’m a touch in the dark.

Wonko -

I sent you an email…from my work account.

One thing that helped me was when I looked back and realized that many of the things that I’d really had big expectations for at the time, would have been worse than what actually happened. There is a saying “Be careful what you pray for, it might happen”. With that in mind, you can still have expectations, but not let them rule your life.

Hey Sara, good post but can you clarify something for me? Why breathe to expand the chest instead of the stomach? I was always taught the opposite in my martial arts training. Of course I understand breating is more than just meditative in the martial arts so maybe that’s the difference but I’m curious if you were taught that since that’s how we adults naturally breathe anyway (though not as deep.)

hmm ok I dunno what breating is either. You know what I meant, I hope. musta been the beer. Oh divorces suck. end hijack.