Great Expectations

When was the last time you were disappointed or frustrated because life did not happen or turn out as you had expected? How often does something of this nature happen?

That bad, huh?

Don’t frown! You’re not alone. These disappointments may not be happening because you’re mismanaging your life, your world, or those around you. Instead, it may be that you are attaching emotion to outcomes for which you have no control. And make no mistake: Whether to and how to react to a situation is your choice.

For example, I was just as guilty as other students of being overly invested in grades. I must get an A. I get anxious and stressed about the assignment, and upset if the grading does not go my way. That reaction is just likely to decrease my performance (and health, if long term) and increase the likelihood I’ll get more unsatisfactory grades.

Consider these sentence fragments and fill in the blanks. Depending on how strongly you believe that sentence, that belief may have emotions attached to them. Next, consider how you might react if you objectively and dispassionately observed the situation, yourself or others instead of having a negative emotional reaction.

  • My relationship should be …..
  • My family should be….
  • My job should be….
  • My world should be ….
  • Life should be…..
  • Life is….
  • I should be …..
  • I am powerless to …..
  • I deserve/don’t deserve …
  • I am not ….
  • I don’t/can’t…..
  • Others (or a specific person or group) don’t/can’t….
  • Others (or a specific person or group) are not….

If you were to be able to let go of the above thoughts without attaching negative emotion, how would you feel? What emotion would take its place? What would you do if you did not have those negative feelings or those beliefs?

Remember, your beliefs are not cast in stone. You can change your belief and, with practice, diminish the automatic and powerful emotional response to your belief.

I feel freer without my emotion-laden beliefs. Because I’m so accustomed to them, it’s sometimes hard to let them go. They’re safe. They’re familiar. Be brave and see what takes their place when you let them go.

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