We’re Expecting!!!

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Sometimes while I’m reading a book I’ll have one of those moments when it feels like the author is speaking directly to me. Even if the book was sold to millions of people I can’t help but think the author had me in mind when he wrote it. This happened to me recently while reading about relationships and expectations in How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.

“Whenever you feel a tinge of irritation or disapproval, you can be sure that you have an underlying expectation.”  Hugh Prather

Ouch!

I didn’t believe it; at first I tried denying it. But several days and many tinges of irritation and disapproval later, I finally admitted to myself that Prather was right.

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My expectations of the other person–not the other person’s actions–are the real cause of my frustrations. That’s a tough pill to swallow! That means I am fully responsible for my own emotions. That means the crafty little story my brain comes up with to make the other person a villain and make me the poor helpless victim is completely false.

“An expectation is looking for something rather than looking at something. We anticipate one thing and do not clearly see the other thing that is at hand….. Our expectations are based on the past and are blind to the present.”  Hugh Prather

It seems impossible to live without expectations but how much less dramatic would my life be without the disappointments of unmet expectations? Most of my pain and suffering is self-induced. I hold on to hurt or grudges for years because of unmet expectations.

“An emotional reaction leaves you stuck, unable to move forward until you look more deeply at whatever the emotion is trying to tell you.”  Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. in The Mastery of Self

This leaves me stuck for a very long time. I let years (or even decades) go by because I refuse to look into my emotional reactions. If I could get out of my own way for just a minute I could see the other person as an ally instead of a villain. If their actions cause me irritation or disappointment, that tells me something about me, not them!

And, yet, I feel so justified in making it all about them. I don’t have to do any hard work if I take the position that they are wrong for not meeting my expectations.

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We all do this. Listen for it the next story someone tells you. Any story you hear where someone was upset or disappointed you will be able to trace it back to an underlying expectation. Every time! They won’t say it, but this is what’s behind their words, “I expected this, but they did that instead.”

We’re all doing it every day. We’re expecting one thing and we get another. As a result we’re disappointed.

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I’ve found if I live in the present moment without any expectations life can be full of joy. Looking at each moment as it comes without any stories from my ego is heaven on earth. Of course, it’s easy to slip back into old habits but the minute I turn to awareness any disappointment I had melts away.

Am I alone in any of this?

Do you have any expectations that are causing you frustration?

Instead of looking for, might we all try looking at?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

The Little Boy, Authentic Self, and a touch of TMI

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Do you ever wish you could soak in all of the world’s wisdom in one day? In one week? One year? In a lifetime?

As I sit in my office and I look at my bookshelf behind me, I’m moved by the wisdom that resides in my house.  Men and women who took the time to put their ideas out into the world.  Human beings who decided to make a difference.  They sat at their desk or their kitchen table and they purposefully wrote down their ideas to share with all of humanity.

Some authors state that what they wrote about wasn’t really what they had in mind; but instead the ideas simply flowed through them as though they were basically the vessel for the idea to be born through.  They talk as though all they did was take dictation for the idea to share itself through them.  It makes me wonder what ideas want to be born through me or through you?

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When I think back on my life, I rarely find much to regret.  I have lived a joy-filled forty-plus years on this planet and have many fond memories.  Sometimes I turn the clock of my memory way back to my childhood and watch an insecure young boy trying his darnedest to figure life out.  I wish I could report to that little boy to not give up on himself or on seeking wisdom and eventually he would figure life out.

That little boy was resilient!  He was handed a rule book for how he was supposed to conduct himself but unfortunately that rule book was blank.  So that little boy decided he would pay attention and try as hard as he could to fill the rule book himself.  Certain things he did were met with a harsh scolding so he wrote down his behavior in order not to do that foolish act again.  Other times his behavior resulted in spankings so he tried real hard to not forget those rules.  The little boy eventually filled the rule book up pretty full and learned when to talk and when not to talk, when to be funny and when to be serious, and the final most important lesson he learned was to make sure he was everything everyone else wanted him to be.

With that lesson firmly in place, he lost all contact with his authentic self.  For a long time, that young boy did nothing but try to survive by being whoever he needed to be just to get by.  He had genuine glimpses of his true authentic self and even attempted to share that part of himself with his family and teachers.  But more times than not, being authentic was strongly discouraged; and usually with a belt.

That little boy didn’t give up though.  He kept playing the parts he was expected to play.  He said what he was supposed to say, did what he was supposed to do.  But in the back of his mind he still held out hope that one day he would throw away the rule book he so carefully filled.

Eventually when the little boy became a teenager, he realized that some things were worth breaking the rules for–mainly girls.  The seductive and sensual taste and smell of the opposite sex caused the young boy to rethink his position on keeping ALL the rules.  Surely he could relax on some of the rules for his own enjoyment as long as he skillfully continued to APPEAR he was on the straight and narrow.

When that young, robotic, rule-keeping boy discovered the female body, something in his heart woke up (Okay, thanks Captain Obvious, yes I know something else woke up too).  But instead of feeling guilty like before when he broke the rules, now he felt more alive than ever.  His experiences catapulted him to a whole new level of personal satisfaction that could never be attained by just sticking to the rules.

Life has a funny way of calling out to your heart and inviting you to stop faking it.  Even tho you think you’re living authentically, your heart never lies.  Opportunities along the way call out to you–sometimes scream at you–and mysteriously pull on your heartstrings.

I recently read The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and he discussed this authenticity.  “There is a moment when the Authentic Self becomes no longer an abstract term, but an experience.  I believe we all experience such a moment.  It could be during meditation, while painting or dancing, working or working out, lecturing or talking, making love, eating, or playing.  It’s the moment when judgment stops and pure harmony takes over.”

You could say when that young man first experienced the long and slow touch from his high school sweetheart he also discovered his Authentic Self.  The sensual act unleashed something in him that was more than just sensual or sexual.  For the first time in forever, he felt alive!  He felt like he could conquer the world–or at least die trying.  Sure, he was experiencing new and exciting things, but more importantly, his Authentic Self was coming to life.

Fast forward five years and he was still playing the roles and living by rules that he did not write for himself.  In his early twenties, he made the assumption that he was supposed to get married. . .

. . . So he did.

After he was married for a while, they thought they were supposed to have children. . .

. . . So they did.

A couple years after that he grew sick of playing by everyone’s rules and wanted to do his own thing. . .

. . . So he did.

His actions were less than exemplary for a loving husband and father so his wife warned him she would leave. . .

. . . So she did.

He heard once a man regains his freedom he could party like a rock star and sleep around all he wanted. . .

. . . So he did.

Then he heard from a dear friend that told him he was a great guy and if he wanted a great girl he would need to start being a man a great girl would want. . .

. . . So he did.

At that point he realized he needed to start reading books and changing his life. . .

. . . So he did.

He learned all about the ego, his Authentic Self, breathing techniques, people who were revolutionary characters, how people shape their beliefs based off their accumulated knowledge, how people are human beings not human doings, how real joy and happiness can be found in life only in the present moment, and how our society and environment shape our opinions and outlooks which cause our unintentional shift away from our authentic selves.

He also learned that his relationships with women were unhealthy–He was either trying to manipulate them to sleep with him or he was . . . well, he was basically trying to manipulate them to sleep with him.  Furthermore, when it came to women, he had a tendency to pick the ones who never liked him for exactly who he was.  He always seemed to pick the reflection of who he was on the inside.  If he wasn’t happy with himself, he picked girls that weren’t happy with him either.  He attempted to heal his wounds relying on women who were incapable to offer him healing.

I’m not bagging on all the females that crossed his path or trying to blame them for his shortcomings.  He dated many phenomenal women who were wonderful people, but his mistake was taking his ultimate question to them for an answer.  He didn’t ask them directly and most of the time he rarely comprehended he was even asking them anything at all by his actions; but, nonetheless, he took his question to them anyway.

Am I Good Enough?!?!?

It wasn’t until he answered the question for himself (with a resounding YES, by the way) that he was able to steer clear from the nagging external approval he so desperately sought.

I think it’s safe to say that little boy who desperately longed to know all the rules and lived his life for everyone else’s approval has finally grown up.  Through the help of years of counseling and a decade of deprogramming, I feel more authentic now than ever.  I still have a ton to learn and a lifetime of authors yet to read, but my Authentic Self is finally in the driver’s seat for the rest of this journey.  I’ve taken that young boy by the hand, thrown away the rule book, and gave him just one rule to remember–first for himself and then for others–LOVE!!

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Peace,

~Travis