Beware of your expectations and conditions
“Kindness is not a business. true kindness expects nothing in return and should never act with conditions.” – Roy T. Bennett, “The Light In The Heart”
We place our expectations on ourselves and the world around us, many times without expressing or understanding these expectations; they become our conditions for our experiences. Are we even capable of unconditionality in our experiences? Unconditionality is a mindset that we develop based on our own choices and is initiated by intention.
Expectations are when when have a stated or unstated desired result of an experience; e.g. we have an agreement to trade a car against £2,000, one party expects to receive £2,000 and the other expects to receive a car. In this example, however, there might be some unspoken expectations bases one either party’s experiences in life; e.g. the buyer might feel that £2,000 is a lot of money for a car and that it should be in mint condition without any scratches, on the flip side, the seller feels that £2,000 for their car is a bargain and that the buyer needs to accept all the scratches and dents. In either case, one or both of the parties in this case are going to be left without their expectations met, which then can trigger the person’s core wounding and start reacting from that level of their wounding, and a contentious dispute ensues.
What expectations do we place on ourselves? We have two conditions of expectations on our selves; what we experience on the inside and what we experience on the outside. The conditions we place on our inner experiences relate to our emotions, thoughts and feelings. On the outside we have expectations on our status, safety, comforts, etc. These conditions and expectations are based on our parental and societal conditioning and our own perception of our past experiences. Of course, this means they are all based on perceptual constructs. For unconditionality to exist we would have to fully transcend our physical human experience, and is that feasible in this reality construct? Apart from setting conditions we also attach ourselves to the outcomes of our experiences, which is making the conditions absolutes and closing ourselves off from opportunities of alternative experiences that would lead to the same results. Unconditionality make these attachments obsolete because we drop our expectations and attachments, thus accepting whatever is in front of us. Unconditionality can also help unlock the intrinsic feelings of love, freedom, compassion, etc., because we are no longer placing any conditions on how we feel on external events; we stop making statements such as, “when I get that new job I will feel fulfilled!”, or “If I move to the city I will be happy!”.
Where we come unstuck as well, is when we place conditions and expectations on our external world. First of all, it is unrealistic because we cannot control anything external to ourselves, secondly we don’t know if our expectations are met with unconditionality or if we, in turn, have conditions and expectations placed on us that we have meet in return. As pointed out earlier in our external world we pin our inner experiences on the outcomes matching our expectations. Conditions also validate our internal experiences, which in turn sends us off on a quest for more of those experiences and thus setting more expectations along those same lines. Please don’t mistaken these statements for suggesting that we don’t follow our hearts or what feels right, it is only when we do that with attachments to the outcomes and having placed conditions on the experience that we have to watch out. Unconditionality is in part the state that allows us to experience the feeling without any extrinsic influence, you can simply feel happy without any reason.
You might mistaken my exploration thus far for being against any sorts of expectations or conditions. When we are interacting and performing services for others it is important to have conditions and expectations. However, it is critical that we express those before engaging in the “exchange”. If we don’t, or if we do and the other party disagrees and we agree to drop it, we can’t reasonably hold others to the conditions and expectations, i.e. unless the condition and expectation has been agreed by those that are supposed to meet them, we cannot hold others to account. This also applies to the situations where we have manipulated or forced someone under duress to accept our conditions. Of course, there is also the possibility that others have agreed to our conditions and expectations, but don’t come through in the end, then we have to choose how we respond to that. Unconditionality in this case would be to practice detachment from the outcome; we have agreed conditions but we also know that there is a possibility that those conditions are not going to be met and we accept any outcome with unconditionality.
As stated before, is it even possible for us to experience unconditionality in this human form in this reality construct? Isn’t conditionality intrinsic in the experience? Even if we give anonymously to charity, there is an expectation within us to feel good doing it. In my own process, the only case I can conjure up that would be unconditional is the love that a parent has for a child. Yes, there are those that place conditions even here, but there are plenty of cases where parents place no expectations of reciprocation of anything in return for the love they feel towards their children. I would further argue that it isn’t healthy to hold no expectations, but it is how we manage and act around those expectations that tell us if we are causing ourselves suffering from them. It is all about the balance of holding expectations and placing conditions vs. attaching to the outcome. If we can accept any outcome with grace, because we don’t control it, but knowing we have a choice in our thoughts, words and actions at the conclusion we don’t need unconditionality. Checking in with our motivations and shadow aspects when we set our intentions and by being clear and transparent in our expectations, we lay the groundwork for balanced conditionality.