Do you want to have better relationships with co-workers, family, a significant other, or just anyone you meet?. Does it seem like sometimes, no matter what you do, you don’t see eye to eye? We know great relationships can be tricky. Nearly 24 years of marriage have taught us many important lessons. There are many aspects to a healthy relationship—one essential key to great relationships: release attachment to expectations.
How things are going at work, at home, and in relationships in general dramatically impacts overall health. So, while people primarily come to us for health concerns, we know treating the whole person makes a significant impact.
Everything you do outside of acupuncture treatments makes a difference in your overall well-being. You can use this article’s simple mind-body medicine principles to release attachment to expectations and improve any relationship.
How Attachment to Expectations Creates Suffering
Mindfulness and Buddhist philosophies significantly impact how we relate to one another and pretty much everyone we meet. Books such as, If the Buddha Married and countless titles from the late great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn influence our lives.
While we’re certainly not perfect, I can say firsthand that the principles below make a difference in our lives and the lives of our patients.
Thich Nhat Hahn said, “People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.”
Rigid attachment to expectations causes suffering. In the context of healthy relationships, people often think it’s the other person causing the suffering. They don’t. Other people don’t cause our suffering, we do.
We generate our suffering through our attachment to expectations. We get a fixed idea of what should be in our lives or how someone else should act. When things don’t meet our expectations, we suffer.
Maybe we want the other person to act a certain way or do a particular thing. When they don’t do it, we get distraught and cause ourselves significant mental and emotional anguish. Or, someone might say something that pushes our buttons or rubs us the wrong way, and we get mad at them for getting us angry or upset.
Attachment to expectations keeps us stuck in suffering. It’s easy to get caught in a negative thinking loop where we blame another person for everything going wrong. If you find yourself spending a lot of time pointing fingers and ruminating about the other’s faults, it may be time to take stock.
This vicious cycle signifies that you may be attached to expectations, which zaps your energy. You may notice anything from a moment of irritation to long-term anger and frustration.
How to Shift Expectations and Positively Impact Relationships
Stop Blaming and Look Inward
Our suffering is not the fault of anyone else. Someone else may be the trigger for some unresolved emotion(s) around a past situation. However, if you look closely, you’ll often find the other person’s behavior is pointing to unresolved insecurity, wound, or emotion. That emotion, however, still needs to be addressed by you.
While we cannot control others’ actions or behaviors, we can take responsibility to change how we respond and what we do with our energy. Be willing to meet the emotions inside that may be triggered by others’ actions. Be willing to take good care of the pain that was already there and take responsibility for your energy, thoughts, and emotions.
The next time you find yourself blaming another for “making your life miserable” or making you sad, stop, breathe, and assess. Ask yourself, “Who is the cause of my suffering?”
Is it the person who cut me off in the rotary, or is it I who expects that everyone knows exactly where they are going or that they are concerned with my stress level? Is it my spouse not having dinner ready or making plans that conflict with my own, or do I expect them to know that I am hungry or have a different plan for the evening? When you begin to see how your own needs and expectations are at play, it can help shift your perspective.
Assess Your Perspective
We all view the world differently. The chances of one person seeing things in the same way as we are astronomical. This information is critical for cohabitating on this planet together. Often, I find the other person saw things differently. So, I don’t need to get offended. Instead, I can realize they saw the situation from a different perspective than mine. In this case, I can send love to the problem, not anger, and the universe can flow more freely for all of us.
Detach From Expectations
Not having what you want is temporary. When you detach from expectations, you free up so much energy. Use this newfound energy to focus on what is working and what you do want. Doing so will propel you forward. One of the best ways to do this is through a daily gratitude practice. Creating an intentional daily routine to look for what’s working is the perfect way to reframe expectations and improve things for the better.
Having healthy relationships outside of oneself requires a healthy relationship within oneself. We are all responsible for being truthful and honest about what we feel and need to ourselves and others. That way, each person has a chance to respond lovingly. Remembering to breathe, stay calm, and take a bird’s eye view of the situation will change your perspective. This perspective will give you all of the information you need to make a good decision about responding, resulting in a win-win for everybody.
About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac.
Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility--a passion born from he and his wife's own fertility journey. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.
Cup of Life Healing Center has two locations: 82 Washington Street, Suite 2, Keene, NH and 400 Amherst Street, Suite 402, Nashua, NH. The clinic can be reached via phone or text at (603) 352-3625.