Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Discuss the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes.

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Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

This is a discussion forum topic for the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.


A noteworthy theme throughout the book is summed up in Suggestion Four at the end of the book: "Let go of moralizing or similarly judgemental language". That chapter explicitly advises to let go the words 'should' and 'ought'.

Thus, generally speaking, one who is following the advice of the book will never say things like, "X happened but shouldn't have happened", or "I am doing Y but ought not be doing Y."

One who is following the advice of the book might say, "I will do X", but they would not say, "I should do X". One thing to keep in mind about people who say that they "should" or "ought" to do something is that they almost certainly won't actually do it. People who will do it say "will", not "should". Generally, "should do" means, in part, "won't do".

One who is following the advice of the book won't issue prescriptions against unchangeable aspects of reality, such as by saying, for example, that the past 'should' be different than it is.

In fact, typically one who is strictly following the advice of the book would do their best to not use the words 'should' or 'ought' at all.

They won't willfully resent an unchangeable aspect of reality, or unchangeable reality as a whole, for being the way it unchangeably is.

In other words, one who is following the advice of the book will, like me, do their best to put into practice this principle: I fully and unconditionally accept that which I cannot change (i.e. that which I cannot control).

While it is essentially the same idea with different words, one word I do not address explicitly in the book as directly is the word 'expectation'".

I do briefly mention "expectation" in the chapter, "(Type 2) Temporal Enabling or Codependency (Abusive or Toxic
Pseudo-Love)"
. If you do not recall that chapter too well, I suggest re-reading the whole section in which that chapter appears: "Temporal Unity of Selves: Loving Yourself Over Time"

However, in that chapter, I reference 'expectation' only in an example, and don't address it directly in the 11 Suggestions at the end. So I will address it here, now.

Different people can use the same word in different ways, and even the same person can mean very different things by the same word in different contexts.

So, I will be clear: As I use the terms, expect does not merely mean predict. For example, when I say, "It will probably rain tomorrow" that is a prediction, not an expectation. If I say, "I will fire you if you don't get to work on time tomorrow," that is a conditional prediction (and perhaps a promise), but it is not necessarily an expectation, at least not as I use the terms.

Even a relatively simple AI designed to play chess or poker can make many predictions, including conditional ones. "If they move there, I'll move here; and then if they go there, I'll go there." Thus, there is nothing too special about predictions per se.

However, expectations are something significantly more than mere predictions. Unlike mere predictions, expectations also include some kind of superstitious or resentful judgementalism. Expectation acts as a primary gateway and foundation for blame and resentment.

While expectations can also be linked to predictions, often the opposite is the case. Often expectations are, in part, the opposite of predictions. Many times when one has an expectation against you, someone, or something, they actually don't predict that their expectation will be met. Often, they are predicting that you, or whatever is the subject of their expectations, will disappoint them by not meeting their expectations.

Indeed, as I explain in my other topic Whether you are looking for a savior or someone to save, or both, look into a mirror, misery loves company, and unhappy people find comfort in blaming others. For example, an angry person often isn't angry at you because they see something you did as angering, but rather vice versa: They were already angry and/or unhappy and thus were on the prowl for excuses and scapegoats. They aren't angry because they see you as angering; they see you as angering because they are angry. Unhappy people look for reasons to be unhappy. They look for scapegoats. They predict that they will be disappointed, and accordingly spend their days extra anxious and extra afraid, constantly waiting for the next big disappointing thing that doesn't meet their expectations. For some like this, life is just a series of unmet expectations--how incredibly frustrating, enraging, and resentment-worthy it must be for them.

Those ideas are also explored in my topic Perception is almost entirely a matter of projection, and my topic We see what we want to see, meaning what we choose to see.

The above is one reason the book uses several examples of abusive relationships, such as romantically abusive relationships between two people in space, or an abusive relationship between a younger and older version of the same human (e.g. your current self versus your so-called future self). The repeat physical abuser might say, "look what you made me do!" If the unhappy abuser was believed, the victim is to blame for not meeting the abuser's presumably lofty expectations. But was it really the victim or was it the expectations themselves? Or was it neither and the expectations are merely an excuse? Of course, a single human living on the planet alone can still suffer from expectations. As the book explores in more detail, many human beings are in an abusive self-hating relationship with their selves over time. Many put these high expectations on themselves, and then blame, judge, and unforgivingly resent themselves for failing to meet those expectations. They might look in the mirror and say, "it's your fault! You disgust me!" They might look at what they are doing, and, with judgemental resentment say, "you shouldn't be doing what you are doing, and you shouldn't be the way you are".

In any case, whether issued against people, animals, events or others things, ridiculously high expectations are a useful tool for unhappy people to create scapegoats.

The unhappy person gets to blame their lack of inner peace (a.k.a. true happiness) on reality not meeting their expectations. They get to use judgementalism to criticize aspects of reality for being the way they are. "That happened but ought not have happened," they might judgmentally say, whatever that means. "You're not good enough," they might judgmentally say. "If there is a God, he is evil for making a world like this," they might resentfully say. "I'm unhappy and don't have inner peace because things out of my control are the way they are," they might say. Do they issue expectations and blame because they are unhappy, or do they lack the true happiness of inner peace because they issue expectations and blame? It's of course both, like the proverbial chicken and the egg. A karmic cycle, of sorts.

Can you see the difference between predicting a dog won't poop on your floor while you are at work versus expecting it?

When a prediction is revealed to be incorrect, then it is simply revealed as a miscalculation.

The predictor might say with a giggle, "Opps, I miscalculated."

The predictor might be frustrated, angry, sad, or afraid. They are just emotions and feelings, like hunger. All humans feel them. But the predictor doesn't add blame to the equation. An inner-peace-having predictor doesn't blame other people and things for their feelings. The lion might feel hunger upon seeing the antelope, and the antelope might feel fear upon seeing the lion, but there is no need to add blame to the equation. Like anything that is, the feelings just are; they don't need to be anyone or anything's fault, in the judgemental sense of the word, meaning the result of an unmet expectation. The predictor didn't have an expectation, and so the predictor doesn't judgmentally say or believe things like, "I'm angry because the weather didn't do what I expected it to do; it's evil!"

Predictors don't even 'blame' themselves for miscalculating because to do so would be to have had an expectation that they don't miscalculate. The predictor doesn't say things like, "I should have known."

In contrast, the expecter doesn't fully and unconditionally accept what they cannot control (i.e. what they cannot change). Instead, they set a bar of expectation against which to compare aspects of reality they cannot change or control, and resentfully judge reality, in whole and in parts, for failing to meet those expectations.

As I use the terms, one cannot have inner peace if one expects unchangeable reality to be different than it unchangeably is.

Prediction is consistent with unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, and inner peace.

Expectation is not.

Prediction is consistent with letting go of blame and with transcending the idea that there ever is anything to forgive in the first place.

Expectation is not.

Prediction is consistent with letting go of any and all resentment.

Expectation is not.

Ram Dass once said, "When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, 'You’re too this, or I’m too this.' That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

The average human is not very rational. Humans are not rational agents. Humans are not nearly as different from the other animals as they often think, especially animals like the dolphin, the octopus, and the elephant. Even though an expecter would often put a ridiculously higher standard on humans and then get judgementally upset when the humans do not meet that high expectation, a human creature is not that far off from a cute puppy chasing its own tail.

Humans break promises and do other human things. Lions eat antelope. Dogs poop on floors. Trees do tree things. And hurricanes kill people.

Ram Dass turns people into trees. Sometimes I turn them into bees.

Do you blame buzzing bees for being bees?

I don't blame anything for anything.

I don't expect anything. Not from anyone, and not from anything.

I have inner peace, in large part, because I don't have any unfulfilled expectations. I don't have any unmet expectations.

When it comes to what I cannot control, I don't expect; I accept.





---
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My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by ReviewsByChristine »

"I have inner peace, in large part, because I don't have any unfulfilled expectations. I don't have any unmet expectations."

What an important point! A few years back I was moving internationally for work, and I was speaking with family member who lived abroad for years about their experience. They said there was a big difference between happy expats and those that didn't have a good experience. Those that were unhappy has some sort of an expectation on how life abroad should be. They had pictured how life would be, and when reality didn't exactly meet that (whether exceeds or underwhelmed).

That point always stuck in my head, and now I will add your thoughts on the topic too.
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Covenant Olusegun
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Covenant Olusegun »

This is great, Scott. I've been thinking about the Sam thing in almost the same way: the best way to avoid disappointment and frustration is to stop over-expecting. The happiness that comes with letting go and not putting ourselves in situations we have no control over brings peace; unmet expectations break us down and leave us feeling sad.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Zainab Wasif »

I agree that when you let go off expectation and blame, you do attain inner peace. In my opinion, there should be zero expectation when you start off a venture or journey. Everything you attain would be treated as a bonus and something you would value, which would lead to contentment and ultimately, inner peace.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Onyinyechi »

I think we find peace when we let some things remain the way they are and let to let certain things go in our lives. The faster you realize that something isn't meant to be and learned to let go the faster your growth in all ramifications, of life. However, this shouldn't turn you into an underachiever.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by JUSTIN CHRISTENSEN »

I liked Scott's comments about expectations leading to disappointment, blame, and resentment when reality doesn't meet our desired outcomes. The idea of accepting what we cannot change and not holding ourselves or others to unattainable standards is what I think of as the most important aspect of inner peace. In my experience.

I would, however, like to offer a slightly different perspective on the use of words like "should" and "ought." My background is in linguistics and so, maybe unsurprisingly, I believe in the power of intentional word choice. While it is important to be mindful of expectations, these words can serve as a useful guide for personal growth and development. When used in a constructive and realistic manner, they can help us identify areas of our lives where we can improve or make positive changes. For example, saying "I should exercise more" was the first step on my journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle. For me, identifying the need for change verbally was important. Speaking the words out loud to myself helped cement it as reality. I DID need to exercise more, it was a revelation! At that point I was able to say "I will exercise more" and set-to.

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that words are just sounds (or lines, if you're reading them). They are tools. A hammer isn't good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, it just is. The carpenter making use of the hammer is ultimately the one who uses it well, or poorly. Words are the same, which is why saying "should" can be dangerous with the wrong mindset, but can be an empowering step towards inner peace.

Just my take, of course.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by NadiaBoateng »

Expectations can cause high blood pressure and I am talking from experience. 3 years ago, I met someone who promised to give me the world. I was modest though, I didn't as for much. All I wanted was just his companionship, but he started promising heaven and earth. Then, I started imagining what life will be like if he comes through with his promise. I waited. I pondered, I was patient and all while expecting. After one year of waiting and nothing happened, I had to let go of the wishful thinking. At that point, I knew it was all a lie. I was really disappointed and heartbroken for months.
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brit
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by brit »

Yes, if we can let go our expectations, we would be happier. Expectations can only lead to disappointment, sad, and heartbroken. This could help our inner peace to come out right.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Sanju Lali »

I totally agree with the statement that by clinging to the superstition of expectations we tend to lose inner peace because our thoughts will be revolving that expectation and we tend not to value the inner peace. Same is true in blaming others for the untoward things that happen to us and thereby lose inner peace.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Akangbe Opeyemi »

Expectations leading to disappointment, blame, and resentment when reality doesn't meet our desired outcomes are indeed true. Most times I expect too much from people and forget that some things are just out of my control no matter how I try. When people then fail to meet my expectations I get hurt, pained and disappointed even losing my peace.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Nicky Rita »

The book exposes the pitfalls of expectation, a breeding ground for disappointment and inner turmoil. Letting go of this "superstition" allows us to embrace the present with open arms and find peace in the unfolding reality.
Thomas Odhiambo 1
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Thomas Odhiambo 1 »

Letting go of expectations and avoiding blame can lead to inner peace by allowing acceptance of the present moment and fostering a more positive mindset. Holding onto unrealistic expectations can create stress and disappointment, while blaming others or circumstances hinders personal growth. Embracing a mindset of flexibility and self-reflection can contribute to a more serene and balanced life.
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
Moranga Dominic
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Moranga Dominic »

Clinging to expectations often leads to blame, creating unnecessary stress and hindering personal growth. Embracing a more open-minded and adaptable mindset can foster a sense of tranquility and resilience in the face of life's uncertainties.
Osakwe Emmanuel
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Re: Letting go of expectation | How clinging to the superstitions of expectation and blame disrupts your inner peace

Post by Osakwe Emmanuel »

I believe that when you stop expecting things to turn out a certain way and avoid blaming others, you can find inner peace. In my view, it's best to begin any journey or venture without expecting anything in return. That way, anything you achieve will feel like a bonus and make you happy, leading to a sense of contentment and inner peace.
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