Letting Go of Expectations

We’re told to dream big.

We’re told we can achieve anything we put our mind to.

We’re told to reach for the stars.

In today’s world, we’re told anything is possible. And that thought is so powerful. We believe we can, so we do.

If we hold high expectations, we achieve more.

I teach my littles if they want something, they have to work for it. Life won’t just hand you things.

But what about the times that we dream and reach and work and it still doesn’t happen?

Those big or little or everyday moments that don’t look like what we expected?

Those times we feel like we gave our all, but the outcome doesn’t reflect our work?

Or when life throws you curves and you end up on a road you don’t recognize and you’re utterly and completely lost?

We feel ashamed. We feel like we have failed. We feel disappointment and guilt.

We’ve all been there. The big, life changing events that happen in our lives.

My husband and I were in our early 20s, just graduated college, just got married, and just off the plane from our honeymoon. We expected life to be rainbows and butterflies. Then my husband started having strange, unexplainable symptoms. We kept going to the doctor after doctor, but they kept telling us they didn’t know what was wrong. Until one evening, we decided to go to an ER, and with some extra scans realized my husbands appendix had burst. In the words of the doctor, it was “shredded.” He was lucky to be alive.

I was 23 and pregnant with our first little. I expected that once I was pregnant, that was it. You experience all the typical pregnancy symptoms, then you have a baby after 9 months. Until I was 25 weeks pregnant, went into labor, and delivered a micro preemie. She was 1 lb 13 oz. We were told our daughters’ birth was spontaneous and they couldn’t determine for certain what happened. We were told to expect healthy future pregnancies.

Until I was 25 years old and 23 weeks pregnant with my second little. My husband and I were at our ultrasound when they found symptoms of preterm labor. I never expected to be put on strict bed rest for over 3 months. I never expected the possibility of having another early preemie.

But, this doesn’t just pertain to big life events.

We all have the little every day moments, especially in motherhood, that just doesn’t look how we pictured it.

I’ve always had high expectations for myself. Especially since I’ve become a momma. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.

I find my patience gets thin when my expectations aren’t achieved.

The nights you expect the baby to sleep through the night.

Littles bedrooms not cleaned after being told.

Shoes not on feet when you ask.

Good behavior turned nightmarish when you’re at the store, a friends house, or the park.

Every night my husband and I put our three littles to bed and every night someone needs something. My oldest needs a drink or my middle needs a hug or my little dropped his binky out of his crib. It’s always, ALWAYS something from someone. And sometimes I find myself in this cycle of expecting them to go to bed quietly, even though history tells me otherwise. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? But I find myself expecting without realizing it. When the truth is, I’m setting myself up for failure.

There have been many, many moments throughout my life that I’ve had different expectations. Big and small.

And somewhere along the road I blurred the lines between expectation and self worth. If I expect something, I have to achieve it because if I don’t then I’m not good enough.

But that’s a lie. I am good enough. And so are you.

How do we start to let go of our expectations when they seem to be a part of human nature?

It’s about releasing our attachment to outcomes.

We can have goals and hopes and dreams. You can strive for better without expecting it.

When you let go of expectations, you are showing yourself grace. You don’t expect specific results that hinder you from right now.

Do you want to know a secret?

Accept your shortcomings, your failures, your setbacks. Accept that life isn’t looking quite like you imagined. Accept that you’re struggling. Accept it all.

Why? Why would I accept something that I’d want to change?

Because doing so allows you to move forward. To keep going. To stop wallowing in the past and what-ifs and forces you into the now. Right now.

By not accepting your situation you are fighting yourself. You lose either way. It knocks you down and makes you a victim and doesn’t allow you to keep going.

Accepting what is doesn’t mean you’re settling. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard or give it your all or strive for the best. It actually allows you to push harder because you’re not afraid of failure. It allows you to get up sooner, move on quicker.

The only expectation you need is to expect nothing.

Expect nothing, but strive for everything.

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