I became aware of one of my expectations this week.
It was raining while I was driving back from work and I wondered if Yana (my daughter) had brought her bike back from school, where she had left it outside in the frost and rain for 5 days.
When I got home I discovered Yana was out with her friends and the bike had not returned. I impatiently went out to bring it back. When I found the bike out in the rain I was angry. I realised I had some expectations and judgments:
I expected my daughter to care of her bike in the same way that I would.
I expected her to know that leaving her bike out in the winter weather for 5 days could make it rusty.
I judged her behaviour as irresponsible.
I knew I was on a rant and I knew it was time to take responsibility for my expectations because I was not enjoying how I was feeling.
Did I want Yana to learn that I cared more about her bike that I did about the choice of my thoughts and expectations?
Did I want to punish my daughter or take responsibility for my own judgments?
Was it Yana’s “role” to conform to my expectations so that I could remain peaceful or was it her “role” to give me another opportunity to practice choosing peace, regardless of her behaviour?
I decided to start off the conversation with my daughter by sending this email:
You may not take care of your (almost) new bike in a way that I expect. I certainly don’t want you to stop leaving your bike out in the rain because you are afraid of upsetting me. I don’t think you would do that anyway!
I do want you to know about these practical suggestions about taking care of your bike:
1. Leave it in the bike shed at school so that it keeps dry.
2. Don’t leave it over the weekend at school.
3. If it does get soaked for several days then spray some oil on the gears and where the pedals go round.
I got angry when you left your bike out in the weather for 5 days and then “I had” (or rather “I decided”) to go and get it because I couldn’t bear to think of the rain rusting it.
My anger was because I held expectations about how you should look after your bike. Then I remembered that when my expectations make me upset I want to change my thoughts and judgments. I expect that in any situation I will want to choose loving thoughts rather than upsetting ones. I expect to remember that my peaceful feelings are not conditional on what you do or don’t do.
I like that you want to ride your bike to school.
I like that you are independent about getting to and from school.
Enjoy your bike and I will take care of my feelings!
I know I’ll continue to have expectations. I want to remember that when my expectations are not met and I feel annoyed in any way, then my expectations are always unhelpful. They are an attempt to control the behaviour of others so that I can be lazy about my choices. If everyone does as I expect them to, then I can forget that I am responsibile for how I feel. My true learning partners don’t ever want me to be forgetful. By not meeting my expectations they remind me to “wake up” to choice.
I expect myself to choose to feel good under any conditions.
Go and watch my video called “Are Expectations Ever a Good Idea?” to find out more about how crazy expectations can be!