Let’s explore our relationship with expectations — the ones we have of ourselves, the ones we have of others. Expectations about how our lives should unfold, how the world should be, how events should turn out…
Expectations sever us from our soul’s presence, our direct experience of reality, and from relationship with our inner selves as well as with our world. They postulate some imaginary state of perfection that bears little resemblance to the actual nature of things, which is complex, fluctuating, cyclical, inconsistent, often contradictory.
Our responses to events, ideas, people, experiences and so on are subject to forces both collective and personal, and mired in histories, systems, cultural and social norms & beliefs, and undigested experiences that shape us in ways we may be largely unaware of.
No-one and nothing meets this imaginary standard of perfection because it is a thought-form rather than a reality, albeit one that may have the power of millions of other people’s thought-forms behind it. We think of ourselves as free, sovereign individuals, but the truth is, we are each an ecology; we contain multitudes. If you’re looking for a singular person free of contradictions, complexity and nuance, you’re seeking a rainbow-hoofed unicorn. You’re hunting a construct, not inviting relationship with a living being.
No person or place, no system, culture, language, politician, beloved, child, parent, friend, colleague or enemy is ever just one thing.
Integrity isn’t defined by perfection, but by embracing every aspect of ourselves, and each other — the sublimely creative, the bitterly confused, the lovable and loathsome, delightful and delirious, dangerous, deluded, divinely inspired, and a whole range in between.
The pursuit of perfection, in each other, in our social, cultural and political systems, in ourselves, in the world around us, puts us at odds with reality. Arguing with reality is, at the very least, a profound waste of creative energy.
Ultimately, the desire for perfection is anchored in fear of the unknown and unknowable, of the uncontrollable, unpredictable Other. It is the desire to force the mystery into a form that’s familiar, knowable, tame-able. To bring it into our sphere rather than extend ourselves to meet it in the space between us.
Here are some questions I’m asking myself today. Play along if you wish.
In what ways are you Othering yourself, judging yourself, holding expectations of who and how you should be? In what ways are you refusing reality?
In what ways are you expecting reality to bend itself to your judgments and projections?
How does this stance affect your life, your relationships, your creative work?
What will you choose instead?