Meteorologists (weather forecasters) have long been joked about and even teased that theirs is a profession that allows them to remain employed even though they’re wrong the majority of the time. (6o% to 70% of the time, depending upon which tracking model you use, European, Canadian or American)(that’s a joke). We’ve all watched their complicated, computer generated graphics and wavy armed explanations of what the current conditions are, only to look outside our window or step outside our door and see something completely different. We have frequently prepared ourselves for what they have predicted was ‘headed our way’, only to scoff hours later when they’re explaining all over again how it happened to ‘miss’ us.
Not for the lack of trying over many years and in every possible type of situation, I have learned that my forecastings (expectations) of how others were going to feel, or how a conversation was going to go, or what someone was likely to do in response to what I felt, said or did, were incorrect so often and in so many ways that the practice itself was useless. It was a waste of time and energy. It was like watching a movie with 18 alternate endings. Somewhat entertaining but exhausting. Oh, and completely frustrating.
Because, if I were actually watching a movie that was putting me through alternative ending after alternative ending, how long would it take before I was screaming at the screen (and the director who couldn’t hear me): “For ****’s sake, pick one will you?!!!!”
And that’s exactly what I found myself doing in real life; my initial speculations about a person or situation were somewhat entertaining, but mentally running through alternate scenario after scenario quickly became exhausting and frustrating. So I would just decide on one. I would pick one. And then I would drive the person and the situation in that direction. If I had predicted rain, then I would make it rain. If I had forecasted freezing temperatures, then I would make sure it was cold.
For a period in my life, my expectations subtly and unmistakably became a self-fulfilling prophecy mechanism. I would convince myself beforehand that I knew what was going to happen and then, through selective hearing, creative interpreting, and myopic focusing, by golly…wouldn’t you know it…I’d make things happen in a way that would make my expectations right.
Your role in my life was to play the part I had assigned to you. If you went ‘off script’, I would guide you back with phrases like: “That’s not how you should be looking at this.” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.” or “You have no right to say that.” My expectations of you defined you to me. If you met them, things went well. If you didn’t, things went to hell. I considered this reasonable. I was completely self deluded.
I was not a bad person. I was unaware. When I walk around with my eyes shut tightly, I bump in to a lot of things. I knock things over. I break stuff. I can hurt myself and I can hurt you even without ‘seeing’ it. When I am going through my life focused on my expectations, I miss ‘seeing’ a lot of things. I miss ‘seeing’ you as you, rather than you as I would have you be in my movie.
With much help and to my great relief, I practice the surrender of my expectations. I let them go even as they attempt to form. Everyday, I want to be free to be new.
I want the same for you.