I have come to believe that expectations are at the root of the world’s ills.
Expectations put us in a rut. Israeli expects Palestinian to hate Israeli, Palestinian expects the same from Israeli. Each acts proactively on those expectations and, boom, we have war. War that lasts for years and years.
Husband expects wife will be angry when he comes home late, wife expects he has no good excuse and, bang, we have an argument.
Woman expects she will fail because she always has, and, anyway, she’s not really good enough — who does she think she’s kidding? — and, pow, she doesn’t get the promotion. Again.
All these foregone conclusions are based on expectations which may or may not be true. An Israeli might actually want to give compassionate medical care to a Palestinian. A Palestinian may wish to teach an Israeli child calculus — but because of their underlying limiting expectations, neither do.
Author Byron Katie tells a story about a walk in the desert she once took. Katie, a woman of a certain age, was out walking alone in the desert near her home. Out of the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a snake. She froze.
A snake. A poisonous snake. The snake was going to bite her. She was going to be bitten by a poisonous snake and die a horrible, slow death in the desert. She’d die and no one would know what happened to her. She’d die alone, painfully, in the desert. Searchers would come eventually and find a pile of bones. She’d be all alone out there in the desert — dead. Nothing but a pile of bones!
She opened one eye to see the demon snake who was going to kill her, and…it was a rope. Not a poisonous, ruinous snake. Just an old rope. Laughing, she stepped over it and continued her walk.
Expectations are like this. Expect to see a snake, and you will. Even if it’s just a rope. You’ll react to the rope as if it were a snake, when all you need to do is treat it as a rope and keep walking.
What if you lived your life if it were just an experiment? In the scientific method, there are no expectations of outcome. We do the experiment and see what happens. If it works, we keep doing it. If it doesn’t, we stop. We try something new. And, there are no mistakes. What a lovely way to live!