I believe knowing the differences between an intention and an expectation can save us a lot of stress. Simply by knowing which is which …
An intention can be defined as “ a thing intended; an aim or plan.”
A simple example would be playing darts. Your intention is to hit the bulls eye, but more often than not, you fall short. And, that’s okay because you are probably playing with friends and family. Simply enjoying the togetherness, the laughter and being present with one another.
You are enjoying the journey—there’s no destination.
Expectations are beliefs of what will or should be. An expectation is rigid, usually includes attachment, its shape is linear. An intention is fluid, non-attachment to an outcome, and its shape is a spiral. Why does this matter?
BECAUSE. Life does not always turn out the way we “think” it should. Someone can be unexpectedly diagnosed with a disease, we can lose our job, a relationship changes, or we are simply late driving to an appointment because of construction.
And, when life doesn’t follow an expectation, we begin to go into that sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight). We can feel our physical body become tight and contract, our breath rises out of the lower dantien and we take shorter breaths as the heart beat increases.
Expectations also bring us out of present moment awareness, we have no room to bend, instead we break. All because of that belief of what will or should be.
Notice the Difference from Within
We are the only ones who can know if we are having expectations or intentions. The body always knows before our mind does—listen.
The next time you feel stress, no matter the level, a lot or a little—pause and consider the situation. Did you have an expectation of something different than the current reality? Did you expect something from someone else and didn’t let them know? For some insane reason you thought they would already know?
I have done this recently, over the holiday weekend to be exact. I expected my 17-year-old daughter to want to spend some of it with me, but I didn’t ask her. Our holiday didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it inside my head.
I felt my body stress when she had different plans, and then later realized I never came out and asked her. Funny, because in our home, we believe in asking for what you want, the other person can say “no,” but you have the right to ask.
Well, I didn’t ask … and she didn’t know what I wanted. I had to laugh at myself the next day, after feeling sorry for myself the night before. I realized, I had an expectation and it didn’t play out the way it did inside my head. Instead, I could of changed the expectations to an intention by simply asking. It may have turned out differently and maybe not [she does have a boyfriend], but I know I would have felt different because of not having an attachment to her answer.
I hope sharing this example with you, let’s you know I am a student of life—just like you. We are in this adventure together.