The Ponderer

Expectation is the Root of All Heartache

February 16, 2011
Expectation | Gustov Klimt
Expectation | Gustov Klimt

Expectation | Gustov Klimt

Some say Shakespeare’s quote: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” is sad and apathetic.  I say, to live without expectation frees us and opens the door to possibility.  We ‘do’ expectation all the time.  In everything.  It binds us and sets us up for disappointment. I’ve learned to replace expectation with gratitude for what is.

Expectation is…

  • the look on your face when the kids embarrass you in public.
  • the resentment you feel when you’re not invited.
  • the disappointment that comes over you when your honey doesn’t bring home flowers for your birthday.
  • when you cry over the hair color that didn’t turn out just right.
  • when you give up on diet or exercise because of that one extra pound you didn’t lose.
  • the gripping anger over that person that was supposed to show up for you in your life in a certain way, but didn’t.

When we let go of expectation, we free ourselves from disappointment and heartache.  We leave no room for drama, and invite feelings of gratitude.  A whole new world is open to us, with adventurous possibilities we hadn’t even imagined.

Letting go of expectation means detaching ourselves from a certain result.

And then we are free.

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  • Reply Christel February 17, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    Tot agree, Angie! My BFF always says that! Differing expectations seem to be the root of most (if not all!) disagreements, disappointments and arguments.
    Congrats on your blog!!!


    angela Reply:

    Hi Christel -- thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog :-)


  • Reply cry February 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    never thought of it that way
    so true
    ilike that and will always remember these wise words you just planted in my brain, thank you


    angela Reply:

    You are welcome, Cry!


  • Reply Renee February 20, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    That’s an interesting take on Expectations…I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before. I wrote on something similar not too long ago in an email to a friend who was giving up her expectations of her partner and choosing to live with the reality…we discussed the difference between expectations in setting boundaries and expectations of situational outcomes.

    I have taken the viewpoint in the past that it is not the expectation that is harmful so much as it is the attachment to our expectations being met that causes hurt. Reasonable, rational expectations can help create healthy boundaries that allow us to justifiably change our patterns of relationship when someone is outside that boundary. Then there are expectations accompanied by entitlement to the expectation being met -- and those are so harmful. They, as you eloquently point out, stand in the way of our openness to the “what is” in life rather than focusing on what we want it to be.

    You provide such great food for thought.


    angela Reply:

    Thanks for that super thoughtful comment, Renee. I like how you differentiate between having the expectation and being attached to the expectation. Even as I wrote it, I knew my thoughts weren’t complete on the subject. Your thoughts add more dimension -- I agree that we ought to have reasonable expectations for the sake of boundaries. Because boundaries are vital in relationships.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion. And thanks for visiting!


  • Reply fatima zaidi May 30, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    it really helped me tomorrow is my literature paper


  • Reply Grace Under Pressure: Expectations | Build Altars August 18, 2011 at 6:04 AM

    […] Note from Heather- remember this episode of School House Rock? Image: Expectation, Stoclet Frieze, c.1909 (detail) by Gustav […]

  • Reply angela January 15, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Thanks for stopping by and looking around Gayle! And I need structure… the discipline to cook and clean along with my pursuit of solace and art. Perhaps we could help each other ;-)


  • Reply Emily June 12, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    This is wonderful insight, thank you for sharing!


  • Reply Emily June 12, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    This is such wonderful insight, thank you for sharing!


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