Adjusting Expectations

This was to be my summer.  I had spent several years meticulously re-habbing several nagging injuries.  I had gained strength and set ambitious goals for climbing, biking and mountaineering.  Then one little moment changed that.  I was on a climb in Squamish when I pulled and twisted in an awkward movement.  At that moment my summer, and my plans, were changed.

The injury isn’t severe, but enough so that I was in bed for a week and now slowly nursing myself back to health.  At first I was really bummed.  What about all my goals?  I had worked so hard…blah, blah, blah.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and rather depressed.  Then it hit me.  The source of my suffering lay in my expectations.  If I had different expectations then I would have a different experience.

So, I have adjusted my expectations.  I have set more modest goals and I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to become more at home in my body, to learn to listen to the signs/symptoms of what it is telling me.  I am still disappointed by what I won’t be doing this summer, but the sting of those disappointments is greatly reduced.  And I am welcoming the opportunity to achieve some of my other goals…like learning to slow down and enjoy relaxing in the hammock and reading a good book!

This reminds me of a quote that I have on my wall….

This is the way to your inner most home:

Close your eyes

And surrender.

~ Jalalludin Rumi

Questions: What expectations (explicit or implicit) do you have that are creating suffering for you?  What/who is the source of those expectations?  Are those expectations serving you?  What do they produce?

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2 Responses to “Adjusting Expectations”

  1. Suzanne Zeman Says:

    Ah yes, John – our bodies have their wisdom. Nice re-setting.

  2. Peter K Says:

    Your experience is such a metaphor for life itself! We strive to succeed driven by ambition and pride in our strengths, and setbacks of any kind can be great disappointments. We sure do need to experience disappointment many times before learning a good way to deal with it. All illness and injury can be “used” this way, but no one should be under the illusion that it is easy, even if one understands the value of acceptance and repurposing ones attention. I had a 3 week or more bout with shingles that I’m just getting over, and the disease was no more physically uncomfortable than it was a struggle to accept the lack of productivity that came with the package.

    I’m also reminded of a recent trip to Japan, and a visit to a Shinto shrine where I engaged in the ritual of pulling out at random a stick from a bin that had a code written on it. Each code corresponds to a drawer in a huge bank of drawers, like a library card catalog. In each drawer is a fortune, printed out on a piece of paper that you take with you. Mine had the following pronouncement: “You will have fortune, but half.”

    And ain’t that the truth. All of my life, I’ve struggled with expectations that I deserve more, that I work at least as hard as others who have been so much more successful and have more than I do; I’d even helped many of them to succeed. Though at first I was angry with the “fortune”, it soon dawned on me that accepting less, or rather accepting that what I do have is in fact the full meal deal is the recipe for a fortunate life. The fullness of my life as it actually is, THAT IS the complete reward. It only seems to be “half” by the expectations I set. We tend naturally to only compare ourselves with those who are better off, who embody our desires. Though their idyllic situation is usually more of an illusion than reality anyway, the point is that we suffer because of our desires, and not necessarily because our life is intrinsically bad. And I’m a pro. If there is a special olympic event in competitive victimization, I’m deserving of a gold medal. The irony is that someone else would probably be a better victim than me. Heck. I can’t even excel at failure.

    John, I’m sorry you’ve had to scale back your summer plans, and experience more physical therapy than physical ecstasy. But thanks so much for sharing your experience. In many ways, it’s in the sharing that we find life’s meaning.

    Warmly,
    Peter

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