It must have occurred a number of times in our life that we were supposed to meet so many expectations at a time that we almost drowned in the sea of expectations. At our job our boss wants us to be good employees, good workforce, our colleagues want us to be good colleagues and our subordinates want us to be a good boss. In addition to all this, there are the expectations of the family members, who want us to be a good husband, a good wife, a good child. And we have not yet talked about our own expectations in connection with ourselves. It is not surprising that we find it virtually impossible to meet all the expectations.
Put all the expectations in the light of Consciousness, and examine where they come from and why they have such a powerful compelling force in our life.
The Power of the Situation
All the expectations mentioned above emerge from the immense social space which surrounds us and is commonly referred to as the society. It is thus fully justified to call our expectations social expectations, irrespective of whether they are in connection with a specific situation or a person.
The more complex a society is, the more space a specific member of it is supposed to occupy in the complicated system of human relationship. These spaces are called social statuses. Such a status can be of gender (man or woman), family (husband, wife, child, sibling, relative etc.), occupation (teacher, policeman etc.) and of the occasion (customer, patient etc.).
Every such occupied status involves a set of rules, the system of expectations that dictate how the individual occupying the status is supposed to behave in a specific situation, how to behave as a man, a father, a doctor etc.
These expectations tell us how we must and how we must not behave in a specific situation and in connection with a specific person.
In the majority of cases, these expectations work unconsciously, almost like automatic programs running in our life. These deep programs have become a part of our mind in the course of our upbringing, and they are activated by a specific situation in which we are or a person we get into contact with. Then we put on the appropriate mask, tailored to the specific situation or person.
We occupy several statuses at the same time, so it seems that we drown in the sea of expectations. It is also common that the various expectations attached to various statuses collide with each other, generating further anxiety and stress for us.
The Programs of Internal Expectations
As our personality develops, some of the external social expectations become internal ones, and merge into our personality and appear as expectations towards ourselves in our daily life.
Our scruples are derived from these social expectations turned inner ones. Scruples start working when we infringe a rule acquired from our parents or teachers, we do not behave as are supposed to. Everybody knows the unpleasant and compelling feeling that drives us back to the track originally dictated to us by the social expectations turned inner ones.
Another social expectation that becomes an integral part of our inner value system appears at the level of requirements and demands in our life. Our parents and teachers wanted us to meet the expectations of a specific status as well as we could. Our desire to meet the expectations is a demand on our side.
Often we set very high goals and strive to do something perfectly in order to meet our inner demand, that level of requirements. If we perform below our standard requirements, the compelling force appears again, and the unpleasant feeling spurs us to achieve a higher performance, so as to reach at least our standard level.
Since we are unable to be perfect in all areas of life, the unpleasant feelings may become permanent.
The Involuntary Track Dictated by the Expectations
What keeps us on the forced track of expectations, why do not we simply leave it behind?
The dynamizing power of the social expectations is provided by our identification with the internal and external expectations, and base our identity on them. We identify with our social statuses, with the masks of our roles in our gender, family and occupation. These masks are attached to us so closely that we would not be able to exist without them. We indentify ourselves with our internal expectations, and our scruples and level of demands often constitute the cornerstone of our identity.
We are so deeply identified with these social expectations, we do not notice that these very expectations convert us into replicas, fake personalities. The pages of our personal history are written by these external forces imposed upon us by society, they determine how to see the world, how to think about the world, how to think about it, what to believe in, what is good for us and what we should avoid.
That is how we have lost our individuality over the years and became unconsciously the victims of a manipulation based upon the public agreement. The social expectations have been shaped through a general agreement over the centuries and became manipulative because we insisted on our identification with separate state of consciousness.
That is how we jointly sustain this identity, rooted in isolation, this social ”creatureness,” because, due to our ignorance, we stick to the world of forms and shapes. We are only able to imagine our personal existence in the here and now.
Existence without Expectations
When we look at the social expectations in the light of Consciousness, we must ask the question: are we able to live without expectations, what is a life without expectations like?
The problem does not lie with the expectations. The expectations are natural parts of our existence in the world of forms and shapes, just as it would be impossible to live as a form without our body. Without expectations, we would be unable to exist as a part of the social space in which we live at present.
The compelling force of the expectations is rooted in our identification with the expectations, the fact that we cling to our personal identity and the masks that come with it, and the expectations are a natural part of all this.
The proper question to ask is, whether we exist at all beyond our personal identity, beyond our masks?
Our world appears in the space of Consciousness, and the dance of the varied forms takes place in it. Out thoughts, emotions, expectations and everything we sense also appears in that space of Consciousness. That is the space of Consciousness, this Miracle is the only phenomenon which is not a ”thing”, is a „no-thing”, not a manifest object but a space-like, wakeful emptiness in which the image of the world, thoughts and emotions appear.
We, however, in our present, dormant state identify with the appearing content elements of the space of the Consciousness, although our real self is nothing but the very space of Consciousness. We ourselves are the Miracle!
If we give up the efforts aimed at building up our personal identity from the contents appearing in the space of the Consciousness, and instead recognize ourselves as the space of the Consciousness, then–and only then–we are able to exist without expectations.
In an existence without expectations we still continue to meet the basic social expectations rooted in the social status we, for a while, fulfilling in the world of forms and shapes. We continue to function as a father, mother, doctor, accountant etc.
At present, the program of our internal expectations have already been dissolved, and we no longer identify with our expectations of the other people. Our entire Self is filled by the Miracle.
About the author:
Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D is a professor of psychology, a consciousness researcher and writer. Frank is the author of the books “The Revolution of Consciousness: Deconditioning the Programmed Mind “, “The Biggest Obstacle to Enlightenment: How to Escape from the Prison of Mind Games?” and several books on consciousness. With a lifelong interest in the mystery of human existence, Frank’s work is to help others wake up from identification with our personal history and the illusory world of the forms and shapes, and to find our identity in what he calls “the Miracle”, the mystery of the Consciousness.
Thanks to fmwanderer for this article.