Many of us try to circle around this dilemma through avoidance or adherence. We construct a life to try to minimize the possibility of disappointing or letting others down through one of two dominant strategies. 1) Is to be unreliable from the get go, essentially communicating the "don't expect much from me, I might show up or I might not", so as to minimize the disappointment or 2) Is to do everything in our power to meet the expectations of others, in other words, do everything in our power to allow them to control us into being and doing what they want or what they think is right for us. Obviously the control aspect isn't overt and instead of viewing it as that it's delivered under the guise of being caring or loving or knowing what's best for us. They're just helping us to become better people by setting the standards high and continually rejecting us as we are now, while promising that we will be loved and embraced when we meet the standard or fulfill the expectations. No wonder we distrust people who are truly kind and loving without agenda, what is wrong with them? Giving love so easily? Don't you have to work for it through good and right behavior?
We've learned to be skeptical of love and kindness when it's absent of expectation and control. We're so used to these things in place that it feel weird when they're not there. Where are you at in terms of the expectation disappointment construct? Is it internalized or externalized? Or have you come to the edges of it and gone, what is beyond this? For me it was internalized at an early age and eventually I came to a point where the weight of disappointment was so intense I couldn't handle it anymore. The beginning of freedom from this was the moment when I acknowledged that the expectation was creating the disappointment, in other words, I was doing it to myself by maintaining astronomically high standards. I realized that no amount of guilt, shame and blame would lead me to right action or to meeting the self imposed expectations. It was not helping me to become a better person or to make a difference in the world. It only further propelled me into tremendous feelings of separation, disconnect and desire to escape or end this life. When I "woke up" from this control mechanism it brought the possibility of living differently and asking for something different to guide my actions. What would it be like to be guided by my heart, or Higher Self, or the Universe, or Source consciousness, or the Infinite Intelligence? That was a question that assisted me to make the leap, embrace greater freedom, and acknowledge the choice to change the agreement and show up differently with people, and meet people who had outgrown that way of being too.
We just didn't have to live out that script and play the roles of the characters drowning in the reality of guilt, blame, shame, rejection, and separation any longer. It was exhausting to play those parts, either in the role of the one with the power and control (delivering the expectation) or the one being dominated and manipulated by it (trying to live up to the standards for fear of disappointing and feeling shame or the threat of punishment with the subsequent withdrawal of love, care, nurturing, or support), or internalizing the whole drama and playing both roles at the same time! The internalized version being: withholding love from yourself because you didn't fulfill whatever you named as what you were supposed to be or do that day, week, year or lifetime.
Fast forward to now, we have new ways of being, different pathways of interacting, new possibilities to inspire each other to bring things to fruition, to support and celebrate and honor and acknowledge the gift that we are and our capacities to contribute and benefit all who we meet in this life. Here is a poem I wrote recently that acknowledges the possibilities and calls in the new energies:
The Cosmic Heart
Acknowledging the cosmic heart
Entraining to the magical rhythm
Inviting the light and love of consciousness to circulate
through every cell of the body
Remembering the gift of Being
Claiming our space to show up
Acknowledging the blessings
Revealing the mystery
Unveiling our greatness
Leading our lives
Bringing great attention to that which returns all to love
Settling, embracing, relaxing
Bowing our heads in reverence