Expectations Vs. Reality, Part 1

Sometimes our expectations don’t line up with reality. When that happens, we can be in for a rude awakening. Meditation and mindfulness has helped me curb that expectation to lessen the blow when reality doesn’t turn out the way I hoped.

To state it briefly, mindfulness is about being present. Being aware of what is happening and what you are feeling in the moment here and now. When you are taking a walk outside, what are you usually doing? Are you looking at the trees? Smelling the fresh air of flowers and grass? Or are you looking at your phone? Scrolling through facebook? Checking how many likes your latest instagram picture got? Browsing snapchat to see what everyone else is up to?

There’s a time and place for everything. Mindfulness is about making the present moment front and center. There is nothing wrong with checking your social media accounts. I am not saying that if you have an instagram you are a bad human being. But I can admit that in the past, I, myself, have gotten too absorbed into how many likes or views or reposts I was getting. That wasn’t healthy for me.

Practicing mindfulness helped me become more aware of my surroundings. If I am with family or friends, I am talking with them, conversing and enjoying their company. I do my best not to pull my phone out and distract myself—that can wait until later when I get home and am winding down.

In my experience, being aware of reality is similar to practicing mindfulness. Many times in my life, I have envisioned how a certain event or how a day will go, before it even happens. Now, in some cases that can be good. If I have a presentation or interview to do, it doesn’t hurt to envision how I will go about it, as that can increase my confidence and result in a better outcome for myself.

But I am talking about other certain types of expectations. There are two specific examples that I will write about.

Relationships

The first example will be about relationships. Whether it is with a significant other, a friend or a family member, relationships are a two-way street. If I expect a relationship to add value to my life, then I should be adding value to the other person’s life as well; it would be selfish not to. I shouldn’t always be looking out for myself.

If I am always venting to a friend about my problems at work, but in return I never listen to that friend about their problems, how is that fair? I expect my friend to be there to listen to me. If this unfair balance in the relationship persists, then that friend may eventually realize they’re only being used, and will stop listening to me vent. Reality will then set in, and I’ll be sadly out of luck.

To the above example, mindfulness has assisted me by becoming a better listener. And I don’t just mean by nodding my head more and adding plenty of “uh huh’s.” That’s how I used to listen, and I thought that because I could sit there and not say anything for a long time, then that makes me a great listener. But I was wrong.

Mindfulness has helped me become an active listener.

I am more in tune to what the other person is saying. I am being present, understanding their emotions through the words they are saying and the body language they are portraying. Figuring out what they need from the conversation—whether it is support, advice, or just someone to hear about what they’re going through, without casting judgment.

I will give a more personal anecdote of how I comprehended just how important mindfulness and being an active listener is. If you’ve read my breakup blog post, you’ll know I was in a long-term relationship that ended a few months ago. One of the reasons we broke up was because I used to be a terrible listener. I didn’t practice mindfulness or meditation until the last several months of our relationship, so there was a long stretch of our relationship where I nodded my head and said “uh huh,” trying to escape our conversations as swiftly as I could.

I expected our relationship to flourish, even though I wasn’t holding my end of the deal. I made her feel alone and isolated. I wasn’t listening to her problems. Looking back, I recall many times I was watching a basketball or football game while she was trying to tell me about a problem at work, and I would just get frustrated with her. I would ask if she could tell me about it later when I’m not busy, but then I would never give her a chance to continue telling me about it once the game was over.

I wasn’t being mindful of what was in front of me. A human being was attempting to open up to me, yet I was worried about something on a television screen. To no surprise, she had had enough; reality set in and we are no longer together.

Once I started meditating, I could see the error of my ways. I noticed in my other relationships as well, that I wasn’t being as mindful as I could have been. So now I’m working on it every day. At times, I forget. But each time I remember to be mindful, and re-center myself to the present moment, I know I am making small improvements to become the person I want to be.

My next post will be a continuation of Expectations Vs. Reality.

 

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25 thoughts on “Expectations Vs. Reality, Part 1”

  1. I feel that one of the single greatest things we can do for ourselves is go into every situation with no expectation, which is easier said than done. Imagine though if our expectation was always low. If we expect nothing, we are grateful for all that we receive. This post got me thinking. Haha thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really don’t have an issue with said examples but with events that keep changing and morphing my life. I do things and expect certain things to happen from my actions but lately life has had a different idea. This post does bring me comfort in that I’m not alone.

    Like

  3. Hi,
    and thank you for your post!
    Being present in our relationships are so important.
    I had friends who loved talking about themselves, and steered every subject back on them.
    No need to say, they are not my friends anymore.
    I’m so glad that you have realized this, and are sharing it on your blog!
    Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “If I expect a relationship to add value to my life, then I should be adding value to the other person’s life as well…”

    I think this is my favorite quote from this article. Wonderfully written and well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am glad to have seen your blog, thank you for reading my poem… I am an older person, 62, and I have had a meditation practice for about 35 years. i am glad you have found mediation but always be mindful of the fact that the only reality there is is this moment and has nothing to do with the world around you. the only reality and ever lasting thing is the inner you. the watcher of the worldly you, which also has nothing to do with the outside world. all of this material world is in constant flux, remember the flower is made of all things that are not the flower… as are our physical selves but our eternal self is different and is where we are all connected to each other. I wish you much peace in your meditation… there is nothing better and always more to know. Once you “know” or are “awake” you can never go back to unknowing… 🙂

    Namaste, Michelle

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So glad to see you coming to this level of wisdom so early in your life. When I was your age (I’m 61 now) I was so busy trying to make hard decisions about my future and I had no access to mindfulness training and meditation. Go with your heart and your mind, trust your inner wisdom as it develops, and your life will be full of insights and discoveries.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post. Yes, expectations get in the way because they block the flow. They keep us from being fully ourselves and from fully connecting with the people and world around us. That’s what can be so great about crises and upsets; they force us to drop our expectations and be in the world. We kick and scream for a while and then we realize, hey, this isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s a lot better than how I was before.

    I wanted to ask: have you thought about intentions? For a while, I couldn’t understand the difference between expectations and intentions, and I thought I had to drop both in order to live a more mindful life. But real intentions (not expectations masquerading as intentions) don’t have these problems. They don’t get us all tangled up and can be used to generate a more joyful, present life.

    Like

  8. Fantastic read!! This really touches me deeply! On more than one level. Everyday I grow more and more concerned and aware of all that you’ve written here. Thank you for sharing. Well said!!
    I find myself watching and listening while, needing the balance between these things and speaking to be heard.. the challenges, vulnerability, strength and blessings in opening up and actually being received are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like what you’ve shared. Expectations in relationships will almost always exist and are almost always unhelpful. Funny isn’t it? Sometimes it can go the other way too. That is, you expect that someone will not understand you, so you hide your authentic self from them. In reality, opening up and being honest brings new life to the relationship.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  10. A lot of your post resonated with me! I know when I started practicing mindfulness my relationships truly began to evolve and flourish. I started to become more aware of not only what was happening in the present moment, but my thoughts about what was happening as well. I’ve been focusing a lot on the non-judgmental aspect of mindfulness, especially as I become more aware of some of my own thinking errors. I’m learning that self-awareness combined with self-compassion creates positive conditions for growth. Thanks for a great post and I look forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It is crazy how we live our life. It is important to be mindful. But before the smart phones came i think the world was more mindful naturally.

    Anyway we can be lost in our world so much it important to be mindful and meditation ..well i do it every day and it is necessary in life. In jan i am upping my meditation.

    Great post you share of your learnings and growth. Wish you continued growth and harmony

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sounds like you’re making good progress on becoming the kind of person you want to be. Self improvement and personal growth are topics I think about a lot, but I’m just starting to explore using mindfulness to appreciate the good things life brings and to be less resistant to the bad. I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog. I have a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of what you have to say.

    Can’t wait for Part 2!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’ve been writing about expectation as well. Buddha says “expect nothing. Appreciate everything” this is what I’m striving for. It is much easier to stay present and mindful when you have nothing in mind. It’s much more difficult in practice. In regards to relationships – Buddha also taught of The Even Deal. Essentially, the more enlightened soul in the relationship will teach the other soul, to bring that soul to greater enlightenment. That soul will then teach. I’ve realized how often this happens in my friendships; I do not believe it has ever happened in my relationships due to expectations not aligning with reality.

    Great post. I’m glad that you are finding your true self.

    Liked by 2 people

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