Friday, August 14, 2009

Expectations and Habits

Jardin Bontanique de Montreal

I went on a road trip to Montreal, Quebec , this past week (you can follow my adventures here: Scifi with Paprika) and as the miles rolled by (all 1100 of them…both ways…) I got to thinking about expectations.

I will readily admit I frequently let expectations get the better of me. For example, when coping with the mother-in-law who does have some serious mental health issues, the husband and I would be thinking, “Oh, this is going to be horrible, she’s going to want to do this and that and it’s going to be tedious and awful and we’re going to be miserable.” And while it often was tedious, it never was quite as bad as we would build it up to be. But even now when she is receiving full time care, we still fall back into those samskara’s (or ‘habits’ - if I have the Sanskrit word correct). There is no reason too, we just do. And I KNOW better.

The same went for my recent road trip. I have known my traveling companion since 7th grade. She can be difficult to cope with – different rules of engagement apply when we do things together than they do with other friends. I can’t describe it better, but there are significantly different dynamics at work which used to just drain me mentally and emotionally.

Over the last 15 years especially, I have gradually figured out small rules and guidelines that I use to cope when we are spending a weekend at a convention or traveling together. It can still be a very trying trip, but it’s not as draining as it used to be and I am able to enjoy myself more.

And so it was that I expected this trip to be…trying. We did something we have not done before and that was drive instead of fly. I didn’t expect that this would work in any way, shape, or form, but much to my surprise, she loved it. I have never seen her as relaxed and enjoying herself on a trip as I did this past week. This was honestly one of the best trips we have ever done together.

But what I think frustrates me the most is I still let myself get caught up with expectations. I know what pushes my buttons, I know what feeds the expectation machine, and the next thing I know is those pesky habits have snuck back in and I’m stuck in a negativity loop.

Sigh.

So what I’ve been working on is not the emotion of expectation, but the habits of negativity that crop up with those expectations. To not let myself get caught up in the negative feedback loop. For me, trying to change the habit that arises with the expectation is perhaps more approachable than squashing or eliminating feelings of expectation. Maybe that makes sense, maybe not, and that’s okay.

Are there any habits or expectations that you are working on?