Fall is officially in full swing with the bustle of the holidays fast approaching. November is such a magical month of transformation as we start to bring out the holiday finery for our homes and ourselves. We decorate and make lists, plan parties and shopping excursions, book family getaways, and anticipate watching our favorite holiday movies (mine is A Christmas Story). Through all of this preparation, there is a feeling of expectation.
Expectation is a funny thing. It can make us happy or sad, either excited by the possibility of what will come – or completely overwhelmed by everything yet to be done. For many of us, it can also come with a sense of disappointment, loneliness or even failure.
Why do you think that is?
As we move into the holiday season, expectation is amplified as we strive for perfection. For most of us, it’s usually the one time of year when everyone gets together, traveling to one another. We always want everyone to have a great time, so we spend a lot of energy working towards the perfect picture of fun that we have in our heads.
But, when reality doesn’t exactly align with our ever‐elusive ideal, we start getting stressed and overwhelmed, which can even lead to anger and resentment. The energy of judgement starts creeping in and now we’re not only comparing the reality of our experience to others, but we’re scrutinizing the version that we’ve imagined.
We do this because we’re attached to the outcome, an outcome we design within ourselves and which is rarely close to reality.
When we do this, we’re missing out. On a lot. We become so caught up in the energy of what should be happening that we completely miss the experience of what is happening. When this happens, we’re not fully engaged in what’s going on around us, leading us back to our expectation of what we think the perfect experience should be.
Now we’re caught in that energy spiral of unmet expectation that weighs us down and loops us into regret, judgement and disappointment.
So how do we detach from the outcome? How do we let that go? By being grateful for the experience around us regardless of our preconceived ideas. And by recognizing that everyone’s experience is their own responsibility.
That’s a big one.
Everyone is responsible for their own experience (and their own happiness). We know this deep down, yet there’s nothing like the holidays, with all of the parties and hoopla, to reveal just how rarely we accept it. For example, how many people do you know (including you) who move through a party making sure everyone is having a good time? The perpetual “you’re having a good time, right?” question. And when we hear that someone isn’t having the best time, we take it personally. And that leads to self‐judgement, which adds to the energy spiral of unmet expectation.
But here’s the thing…we choose to be responsible for another person’s experience and their happiness. That is our choice. We have within ourselves a tremendous power to choose to accept another person’s energy or not – even if that energy is positive or negative.
So then, what would happen if we choose not to be responsible for another person’s experience?
We wouldn’t be carrying that energy around with us, for one. We need to teach ourselves that if someone is unhappy, that unhappiness is on them, not us. But also, the more we stay centered in our own energy, the more we lift others out of their own negative spin. Cause and effect.
Expectation comes in all shapes and sizes. We expect to feel lonely or sad when our loved ones are gone or too far away. We expect to be disappointed when things aren’t going as planned.
It’s okay to feel lonely or sad or disappointed. To be human is to have emotions, and it’s good for us to experience them. For in the experience, we allow the energy to lift and release. And that is important to remember. Go through the emotion for as long as you need to, but don’t linger in the energy created by it. That is usually where we get stuck. We tend to stay there too long, and before we know it, it’s hard to get out.
But also remember, our mind will believe what we tell it. If we expect to be sad, we are sad. But what if we just allowed the experience to happen without setting the expectation for a specific outcome? That small mindset change now opens up for a whole new world of possibilities that weren’t there before. We are now setting the stage for new energy to flow in.
It takes practice to understand that we don’t have to carry other people’s expectations and even more practice to become unattached to our own. That’s why we have to do a little work every day. I call it building your Spiritual Core. The more we practice it, the easier it gets, and the effort is well worth the end result.
So when you start preparing for your holidays and are in the thick of it, try practicing detaching from the outcome. Remember to allow yourself to be in the moment, without expectation. You may be surprised at how good it actually feels.