Learning to Let Go of Expectations

I went to a writer’s conference last weekend and I was ripe with expectations. I visualized and thought positively and did my best to manifest exactly what I wanted with my mind.

Not surprisingly, I found myself disappointed at one point when reality was not lining up precisely with my imagination.

I thought back to a few weeks ago when I was kicking myself for getting disappointed about unrealized expectations. I had resolved then not to beat myself up for having natural feelings of disappointment, but I wondered last weekend why it was that I was so soon having the same struggle.

This is a familiar pattern in my life.

I create elaborate scenarios in my head about how I want things to go.

I wrestle with myself about whether or not everything will play out as hoped, simultaneously assuring myself I’m worth it and chastising myself for not believing hard enough.

When my internal dance proves to be for naught and real life does not follow script, I’m both disillusioned and embarrassed.

It occurred to me this weekend that part of my problem is all this focus on manifestation, this investment in how I want things to end up. I put so much mental energy in the end result, something I cannot ever fully control, that I lose sight of my own responsibility to the process, my own ability to set small goals and act on them.

I spend so much effort trying to bend the cosmos to my will that I forget to do the things I can.

This, I think, is the inherent problem with the whole philosophy of visualizing and manifesting. In our quest to learn The Secret, we ignore the most basic and obvious truth:

Our responsibility is to do what we can and let go of what we can’t.

I’m not saying that dreaming or visualizing or believing is necessarily bad or wrong or even useless. I wholeheartedly believe that there is power in faith and “acting as if.” But there is also power in acting within our own sphere of control. While one is about controlling what I can’t, the other is about choosing what I can.

I was reminded of that this weekend, thankfully before my visit was over. I let go of what I thought I wanted and chose, instead, to commit to taking the next best steps in front of me.

And son of a bitch if I wasn’t happier as a result. Go figure.

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