Creativity Coaching

Expectations Keep You Stuck

By Valery Satterwhite | Posted 6/1/09 | Updated 4/7/24

"We are never prepared for what we expect." —James Michener

Expectations are everywhere. You expect something from your family; your family expects certain behavior from you. Your audience has expectations of you and you of them. You expect friends and significant others to act a certain way, do specific things. You have expectations about your life experience, what is fair, what is just, what is supposed to be or happen. You have expectations about your craft, your abilities, opportunities and reception in the marketplace.

Your list of expectations is endless. When expectations are unmet upsets result. You are bumping up against their expectations every day.

Unmet expectations are the source of frustration and anger. Expectations are resentments waiting to happen. People sabotage many of their relationships by imposing expectations on others or trying to meet theirs. It cannot be done. People who live with expectations will never be satisfied.

People who hold grand expectations often find themselves at the knees of procrastination. They expect so much of themselves and others that they are frozen with performance anxiety whether it be on the stage, in front of their easel or even in the simple conversation with a prospective client.

"Each painting should be a surprise journey with an unexpected ending." —Robert E. Wood

Creative people push and push themselves and pile on self expectations until they collapse into a puddle of guilt, unable to move beyond the expectations they have set for themselves. To add insult to injury, many expectations people place on themselves and on the events of their lives are unrealistic.

Unrealistic expectations give substance, weight, and power to an unrealized goal. They crush the budding seeds of success as it pushes through the thick mud of perceived failure. Unrealistic expectations kill the blossoming of dreams, because the artist can become so disappointed that she gives up hope, lets go of the dream. What's the point in pressing forward?

The best way to come out of this stuck situation is to let go of expectations. Embrace what is. Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not. The expectations you have of others are often the expectations you've had of yourself that you've not met.

"When I start thinking, "This one has to count, I've got to hit a home run," it takes all the fun out of it. In short, it diminishes the work and marginalizes the process." —Skip Whitcomb

For example, you expect people to treat you with respect. You get outraged when they are disrespectful or cross your personal boundaries. What triggers you is not the other person. Their behavior is a strong reminder of where you disrespect yourself. It is your inner soul, your Higher Self, or what I playfully call your Inner Wizard, holding a mirror up to you showing you something within you that you do not like.

"What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us." —Viktor E. Frankl

How often have you disrespected yourself? How often have you rejected who you are, wouldn't recognize the magnificence that is you. If you read that sentence and said to yourself "Whom is she kidding? I'm not magnificent!" then you are rejecting and disrespecting yourself in this very moment.

Whenever you feel like someone let you down, know this is a sign that you are letting yourself down in a similar way. How are you exhibiting similar behavior with regard to your self? Where is this behavior expressed in you? You will find the answer in areas that you don't feel good about.

Let go of expectation. Give yourself permission to explore and experience without any expectation of the outcome. When you release your expectations you open yourself up to unlimited possibilities.

Next: Fakin' It? Not Really Makin' It?

Copyright ©2010 Valery Satterwhite. All rights reserved.