Life Coaching

How to release the grip on expectations

I have just covered my son’s school books for the last time in my life! Hardly breaking news I know, but symbolically it signifies the beginning of the end of daily mothering commitments, as I watch him tugging out the last of his fledgling feathers, impatient to display his burgeoning beard.

As the final lap of schooling draws to an end, it will be time for him to put both hands on the wheel and steer his own ship in the sea of life. The navigational stars may be fixed, and his own North Star, as Martha Beck refers to it, will remain ever true for him. But the sea itself can present tempestuous waves and doldrums as well as idyllic conditions for smooth sailing.

One of my wishes for him is that he will not only accept, but welcome uncertainty as part of reality, rather than allowing it to fuel anxiety or any other condition generated by fear.

Most of us are brought up under the constraints of expectations and we, in turn, perpetuate the pattern, with both events and other people. But when the outcomes don’t pan out accordingly, we feel let down. By detaching oneself from expectations and outcomes we reinforce our internal equilibrium and remain open to the adventure of change. This does not mean that you laze on the deck while the storm clouds gather, waiting for the sea to toss you around like a hapless victim. Your hands remain on the wheel.

Yet if you doggedly hang on to the expectation of a particular outcome, chances are that you will be pretty miserable if the winds of change force you off course.

Expectation fixation creates tunnel vision. Detachment opens one to all possibilities, nurtures creativity and boosts appreciation of catalysts for their contribution to change.

As a parent, I too must detach from expectations regarding my son’s future. The choices he makes, the experiences he accumulates, are his business, his journey. And by detaching from any preconceived expectation I could have had for his direction, I free myself from disappointment, anxiety and frustration, leaving me open to accept him for who he is, and trust that he will tune into the inner wisdom of his true self as he finds his own North star.

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.” ~ Deepak Chopra