Let’s face it. Life is full of surprises they aren’t always the kind we would wish for. What makes these unexpected, unwanted surprises even harder to accept is our attachment to the way we expected things to go. This particular brand of discomfort – the kind fueled by a life drunk with expectations and the resulting crash from failing to meet them – is profoundly sobering and uncomfortable. I call it an Expectation Hangover® which I define as:
The myriad of undesirable feelings or thoughts present when one or a combination of the following things occurs:
– A desired result does not occur
– Things don’t turn out like you though they would or wanted them to
– You are unable to meet your personal and/or professional expectations
– An undesired, unexpected event occurs that is in conflict with what we want or planned.
The symptoms are similar, but far more miserable and lasting, to those caused by a hangover from alcohol: lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, confusion, denial, anger, poor work performance, diminished creativity, strained relationships, social withdrawal, low self-esteem, regret and a disconnection from a Higher Power.
When our expectations are met, we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Often risking little, we feel safe, in control and on-track. Achieving our goals is intoxicating and we are compelled forward towards them, sometimes disregarding our underlying motivations (which often come from our ego). We don’t like the unknown and we cling to our plans like a road map instead of allowing our inner knowing and God to lead us.
While striving for goals has value, holding expectations and attachment to the way life “should” go sets the stage for disappointment.
Disappointment. Uh oh. Most of don’t like it when the Universe seems to miss the memo on how we think things should be. But the truth is the Universe doesn’t miss anything. We are the ones who are missing out when we do not seek out the lessons from Expectation Hangovers.
When we keep fighting for what we think we want, never slowing down enough to actually learn the lesson that our Expectation Hangover is attempting to teach, it is impossible to clarify what we truly want and need. We’re too drunk with expectations to notice when we are headed in the wrong direction.
The result? We continue to wake up with Expectation Hangovers: A career path that was planned and executed with precision becomes tainted with doubt and lackluster. A relationship with “the one” suddenly becomes the one thing we can’t get right. A salary or promotion that was counted on is not a reality. A home that was dreamt about still remains a fantasy. A pregnancy that is wished for isn’t happening. A parent who we could always lean on suddenly isn’t there anymore. A lover or spouse leaves. An illness interrupts our life. A job and the financial security that came with it is gone.
And then there are the Expectation Hangovers that are more spiritual in nature when we start to realize that although we have checked off everything on our life checklist, there is still lack of fulfillment. This is a pretty direct call from a Higher Power that it’s time to wake up.
So what do you do? How do you treat Expectation Hangovers? It takes a lot more than two aspirin, some greasy food and staying inside with the lights low. There are no “quick fixes” for an Expectation Hangover, but because we don’t like not feeling good, we look for an external way to ease the discomfort. Rebound relationships, abrupt career changes or miscalculated risks, addictions (drinking, gambling, sex, drugs, work, shopping) and numbing oneself with prescription drugs are common. Slamming the door shuts out our ability to see any light at all. We lose faith and sink into the quick sand of victimhood and hopelessness.
But if we slam the door on an Expectation Hangover, we miss out on walking through a doorway of transformation!
Often life has to throw us a curveball (or several) so that we look in a different direction. The problem becomes when we desperately try to dodge the curveball, attempting to get out of feeling uncomfortable, and we miss the lessons that are available to us. If things are not turning out like you had planned or want them to, that is actually really good news. The Universe has a BETTER idea in store. But first you have to let go of the plan you have been attached to so that your Higher Self and the Universe can conspire for you.
Instead of thinking about how to treat an Expectation Hangover, consider how you can LEVERAGE it. Ask, “What am I learning?” rather than “Why is this happening?” Keep your mind out of judgment, regret and shoulda/coulda/woulda thinking. Remember, you did the best you could. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your worth and value are not attached to anything or anyone external. Security from any outside source is an illusion – your ultimate “safety” is in Love.
Think about some of the most inspirational people you know. I guarantee you that part of what makes them so inspirational are the Expectation Hangovers they have been through. They leveraged their hangovers for their growth and learning. Instead of trying to snooze through the alarm of disappointment, they woke up!
Your Expectation Hangovers are gifts. Each one has been an opportunity to let go of something external that you have clung to for worth, safety or Love. I really get that disappointment is not at the top of your wish list. However, if you learn how to respond to Expectation Hangovers from the perspective of a student rather than a sufferer, I 100% guarantee you will walk through doorways of transformation that will lead you to more Love.
Christine Hassler has broken down the complex and overwhelming experience of recovering from disappointment into a step-by-step treatment plan in her new book Expectation Hangover. This book reveals the formula for how to process disappointment on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels to immediately ease suffering. Instead of wallowing in regret, self-recrimination, or anger, we can see these experiences as catalysts for profound transformation and doorways that open to possibility. You can find more info on her website, and follow her on Twitter and FB.
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