It’s Like a Death

We get so attached to our expectations that when things do not turn out the way we’d planned or expected, the results can be traumatic, which can come at great emotional expense due to the experience. It’s like a death.

Just as if your dream or expectation mean just as much to you as a loved one, and when it all comes crashing down (and there is no longer any expectation of turning out like you had planned) then you’re left with all the conditions of grief, just as if someone you loved dearly suddenly died.

We tend to attach everything we are to particular expectations in all kinds of things.

You get psychologically and physiologically attached to everything that you “put your whole heart into.”

The object of your attachment could be anything from a friendship, romantic relationship, material things, spiritual matters, investments, educational or entrepreneurial plans. Really, you can get your heart connected and deeply attached to just about anything, if you have a pumping heart and a thinking brain.

If you’ve loved (been deeply connected to) anyone or anything and you have lost any hope of your expectations coming to fruition about it, you are entitled to your grief. And just as if someone you loved had suddenly died, no one can tell you how to grieve, or how long your grief will endure.

There are some patterns associated with people who are grieving and by looking at how others have successfully (and unsuccessfully) dealt with grief, we can learn better ways to approach to dealing with the grieving process.

The first caveat that can be generally accepted is to avoid trying to replace the object of your affection before you have completed your grieving process. Very little, if any good can come from prematurely jumping onto another like situation, prior to finding a mentally healthy place to approach something new.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past, it’s that moving on too soon will only find us smack dab in the middle of all this drama all over again. No one wants that, though it is something we can learn the easy way or the hard way.

So, allow yourself to take as long as it takes to go through the 7 phases of grief.

Briefly, the 7 phases of grief are,

1. Freaking Out

Your world has just been turned upside down, and you did not see this coming. You cannot believe that this thing did not work out like you had planned. You did your best to do everything right to ensure your success. Yet, here you are, all your hopes and dreams destroyed as you can clearly see the rubble. Of course, you’re going to freak out, and no one would blame you because we’d do the same thing, if we were you.

2. Hurt Feelings

There is a great deal of emotional expression that will run the gamut. One minute you will be feeling like the very life is draining out of you, unsure whether you can take another breath, or experience another heartbeat. The pain from your heart spreads throughout your whole body and you find yourself battling depression.

3. Pissed and Pleading

After a time spent dealing with having your feelings hurt to the core and the suffering that comes from that you move into the pissed and pleading phase. You are angry at everything, everyone, whether they were involved or not, and even worse, you get pissed at yourself. You start thinking about what you could have done wrong, or what you could have done better, and while you are fully aware of the unrepairable rubble, you start pleading for a second chance, may even attempt to rebuild something out of sheer will, but you realize at some point you cannot do anything about it. Them, you try to beg, or plead with God for another chance, like Groundhog Day.

4. Brokenness

Breaking, letting yourself crumble to a place where you feel like you are helpless to do anything about what has happened. You resign yourself to deciding that there is life on the other side of this, and now you can re-evaluate and plan for getting better, and if you’re committed to finding a way to move on, you can start to find your new normal.

5. Life Begins to Return

You’re starting to get through the day, one step at a time, and the steps are not quite as difficult as they were in phases 1 through 4. You’re feeling your body, mind, and soul start coming back to life. You are now starting to feel good enough to rebuild a new, more improved version of yourself.

6. Rebuilding a New You

Now you’re back on the path to healthful healing, getting over this particular episode and you start making plans to live a better life by being able to have some increasing clarity on this tragedy. From this vantage point you are able to separate the good from the bad and look to find the lessons and find the hidden treasures, the messages that were only for you, that you could not have been open to or received in any other way, and you find ways to integrate this new awareness into the more evolved version of you.

7. Loving the New You

Your evolution is complete, and you have let go of this thing which you can now leave behind in the past while retaining all that is valuable and/or necessary for the survival of the new you. How do you know you’ve let go? Because you can think about what you lost, and you have no negative feelings associated with it. Loving this new you means you don’t judge yourself for anything that’s happened in the past, you fully love and accept yourself and realize that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have, and love what is, without judgment.

Anything you’ve been deeply connected with that you have lost is not unlike dealing with the death of a loved one.

If it’s like a death, why not allow yourself to memorialize whatever it is, by honoring it with a ritual, like a funeral. Writing a eulogy might help you to move through the grieving process a little better by honoring that which went before.

Plan on, and allow, yourself to grieve your loss, and don’t let anyone judge you for doing so. It’s like a death, and it’s up to you to look after you so that you can get ready to go on with your life in a more enlightened manner.

Don’t Take It Personal Intentional Allowance


Don’t Take It Personally

Okay, here I am on my journey, doing my thing and expecting other people to be doing their thing as I see it. Wait-a-minute… As I see it?

That’s the thing. You can’t interpret someone else’s doingness from your perspective. Truly not possible. You have no idea what’s going on in someone else’s life, just like no one has any idea about what’s going on inside your life inside your head, or have a clue of what it takes for you to accomplish any of the things that are noticeable by others.

Unrealistic Expectations

For me, it’s all about my unrealistic expectations, the impossible standard to which I hold myself accountable, which I am seriously reviewing at present. Because I hold myself to such (ridiculously) high standards, my expectation of others is to perform likewise without any consideration for what may be happening in anyone’s life or circumstance. This attitude permeates both my personal and professional life, as I maintain unreasonable expectations for those within my inner circle as well as clients and employees.

In the real world, when you have such a degree of expectation of any specific result, you are setting the stage for catastrophe, because rarely does anything happen or come into being, without some degree of chaos. This is a fact of life. Yes, things still happen, ideas materialize and projects come to fruition, but rarely without a hitch or challenge along the way.

When you have a specific expectation based on specific criteria and the verbal (or contractual) agreements of someone else you are setting the stage for failure. Even though everything might go according to plan, in many cases it will not. Now, you can militantly demand your expectation to be manifested – or else. You can unfriend, disenfranchise, excommunicate, or fire anyone who doesn’t comply one hundred percent, but you run the risk of being considered a narcissist with psychopathic tendencies.

Intentional Allowance

It’s a much more palatable process to embrace the idea of “intentional allowance.” That is to say, instead of having a specific detailed black and white expectation, think of reframing your expectation and transforming your expectation into an intention.
Instead of saying, “Okay, the four or you are selected for this project. I expect a delineated solution to the problem proposed presented in the conference room at 2:00 p.m.” period, offer up an intentional allowance alternative, such as, “I’d like you four to (it’s my intention that the four of you) examine this specific problem, and present me with your ideas for solution at 2:00 tomorrow in the conference room.” In the first scenario, you expect the outcome and if your expectations are not met, you can simply fire the participants (or any other unreasonable punishment for noncompliance). In the second scenario, you have stated your intention to arrive at solution and allowed them to do the best they can with what they have, and the result is what it is.

I totally get the ROI (return on investment) idea of running a militaristic operation being more cost effective when results are measured on simply results based on expenditure of time and/or financial outlay. On the other hand if you embrace the idea of intentional allowance, you allow someone to comfortably shine and express their ideas, options and input utilizing their unique inner strengths and abilities by offering them a safe space to exercise and deliver their creative best, in contrast to barking a do-this-or-else command (with its associated unrealistic expectation). Plus, when you’re empowering people to shine, the results can far exceed your expectations. It may take more time/investment but the return can be far greater if you intentionally allow things to come to life.

Don’t Take It Personally

I know, if someone doesn’t keep their word, you react as if they just poured battery acid all over your new car’s paint job, smashed out all the windows in your house and boiled your daughter’s bunny, “Aargh!” And all this angst over something that just simply is.

If someone does not do what they said they will do (in the manner you expected) it’s not the end of the world. Your stuff is about you, and someone else’s stuff is about them. Honor both sides of the human experience, as if we’re all doing the best we can with what we have, because we are.

Even though you are the most important person in the world (and indeed, you are, from your perspective) you must understand that to everyone else likewise, they are the most important person in the world (from their perspective). You can either demand they respect you more than they do themselves (sacrificing all) and beat them into submission or give them the opportunity to find the best results using all their resources in the way that works best for them.

All you really have to do is to relax your expectation by applying intentional allowance and turning your expected outcome into an intention and allow the people, situations, circumstances and challenges to emerge, unfold and naturally come to fruition in as peaceful atmosphere as possible.

So, it takes a bit of effort to try to teach the old-dog part of you a new trick. The effort of altering your ideas and concepts regarding your expectations and the need to penalize any misstep (applicable not only to others, but including yourself) and intentionally allowing a general result can take some practice and time.

Stop Self Deprecating

No more beating yourself up for holding yourself to our own unrealistic expectations. Allow for your own growth in the most natural way by letting yourself expand exponentially with better results.

I’m not saying to throw it all into the wind, rather turn your goals into intentions also. Stop self deprecating (or beating yourself up) for failure. Instead, review the data and look for a better way, readjust, re-position if necessary, and keep on keeping on.

Just like anything else, think about creating your new intentional allowance as an intention. Don’t expect you to adopt this new reframe instantly without faltering. Generally intend to “get there” by practicing over time and allow yourself to do the best you can with what you have.

What to Do When the Unexpected Happens

You had no idea this was coming, now here it is. You’ve done your due diligence, you’ve maintained a reasonable state of readiness, may have been distracted by life’s sleight of hand enough to let something slip under the radar, or may have been blindsided by the inexplicable act of God. Now what?

Do you rant and rave, hoot and holler, pitch a fit or throw a tantrum? Do you get angry, upset cuss at or cry out to God, “Why?!”

If there’s anything we can know about life, it’s that stuff happens.

Like, bidding on an item that if you win it, the results will be life-changing. You’ve been watching and waiting for just the right moment… the clock is ticking… your finger is firmly hovering over the submit key… the time to strike is now! Bam! You got it! You celebrate your brilliantly executed coup! Sometimes in life, things do work out perfectly!

You get your phone out to take a screen shot of your win, and see…

Unable to access the network

Or some similar phrase on the screen… No, this can’t be. You refresh, and sure enough, your once in a lifetime keystroke failed. It doesn’t matter if you were posted up on eBay or your stock trading account, it’s a total bust.

What do you do?

Of course, anyone would be upset.

The idea of being surprised by the unexpected presumes that you had placed a reasonable amount of faith in a certain expectation. You have reasoned that given a particular set of circumstances, you would fully expect a particular result. In that moment when you are surprised to see an undesirable outcome, or resolution that was not what you expected, you are shocked; literally, a thousand synapses fire in your brain, like a huge surge hitting your inner power grid.

Expectation is a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is elation, when something amazing happens when you took a risk and things worked out beautifully. On the other end, disappointment, or something much darker…

You can easily think of 20 times when something totally unexpected happened when you least expected it and the results were less than desirable, if not downright disastrous. Given enough time, you could increase the number of your list to 100 unexpected catastrophes, some more catastrophic than others, nonetheless, you could certainly come to the conclusion that,

Shit Happens

Regardless of why (I mean does it really matter in the moment, even though we try to find a “why” in a desperate attempt to find reason in the chaos or the treasure hidden in the tragedy), the sooner you’re able to gain your composure and exercise some sense of control of your own state of mind (because we’ve just determined, beyond a show of a doubt, that you cannot control everything outside yourself) when blindsided by the unexpected.

You want to find the center balance point of the expectation spectrum, which is

It is what it is

An acceptance that things in life simply occur the way they were mean to be. Accepting the divine in everything, even the unexpected surprises, when things don’t go as planned, and all of this is part and parcel of a bigger plan and purpose as you travel the journey of your life.

In moments, like these, this is such an opportunity to tune into your base vibration. Find the you within, the real, authentic you that see beauty in all things. How often do we get so attached to a process and expected outcome that we forget to stop and enjoy the simple things in life? The things that give us joy and meaning? It is probably time to,

Take a Break

Stop the madness and find comfort in the now, realizing that all things in life are perfectly perfect. Even though it may have been only moments ago, you can realize that what is done is done, and there is no magic time machine that can recreate that moment. It is done, and you have started a new life now. And now. And now…

As you are reading this, old cells are dying off and new cells are being created, and in this moment, you literally are not the same person you were a moment ago. Embrace the emerging new you and find comfort in the things that you may have taken for granted, and,

Let It Go

The event that threw you off-balance is over. We face inconveniences every day. This is all a part of life and you can choose whether to focus on the inconvenience or to shift your attention onto something more desirable. Don’t let the unexpected dominate you. You are the master of your life, you can choose to release your attachment to the outcome, if you want to.

Find Gratitude

As soon as you are able, set your mind on the things that are good, true and enduring and express your heartfelt thankfulness for the things in life that we often take for granted. We are so often so very blessed every day, but fail to take the time to review how amazing

every breath that we take
every beat of our heart
every move that we make
every step a new start

is.

Stay the Course

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Life goes on and you must too. Keep moving and following the path leading to your highest and best and watch you new life unfold before your eyes.

Something good is coming your way…

What I’ve found through these unexpected experiences in my life is that something greater than what I had anticipated in the outcome to which I had become so attached was waiting just beyond my disappointment.

So, now, when things don’t go like I expected, I start to look around corners and over the horizon in the knowledge that something wonderful is en route.

Expectation Imposition

You can try to impose your expectations on another person, but is this really advisable?

I know, I’ve been there, too

I have been in the flow of helping others in counseling, coaching and consulting since high school. In the beginning my work was focused primarily on Christian counseling and I recognized that if it wasn’t impossible to legislate Christian conduct, it would certainly be immoral to attempt to do so. It resonated as true within my sense of being that a person could only conduct their lives in such a way as was congruent with any sense of rationality they could muster based on the individual lives they had lived up to this point in time, or simply put

Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have

counselor coach consultant training counselors coaches consultants

Yet early in my ministry, I kept running into walls and posturing against leadership promoting the idea that certain ideas and expectations should be enforced in order to allow participation in our program. After attempting to find ways to work-around these organized spiritual obstacles unsuccessfully, I determined more secular spiritual endeavors would better suit my ministry.

I mean, really? It appears to me that Jesus had an entirely more radical approach, like, “Love God, mind your own business and don’t screw anybody over” (admittedly, a Masters’ paraphrase, but you get the idea).

As I continued assisting others and later transitioned into training counselors, coaches and consultants, I continued to promulgate the idea that while trying to assist someone along their life’s journey, we should not impose our expectations on the client.

It’s not your life

You can, yeah but, me ‘til you’re blue in the face. I will never concede that you will ever know what’s best for another person. You may have your ideas, and by all means, it is your charge and responsibility to share your ideas, as well as others, to help your client see there are options they might have not considered.

Allow them to make their own way

You must allow them the space to make their own decisions and take their own actions and live out their own lives in their own way.

I have standards

Great; no problem with establishing a target market around the type of individuals you achieve the best results with. You only have a certain number of hours available to help others, it is prudent for you to establish your niche so you can better serve your clients with the resources you have available.

You cannot – and should not – try to be everything to everyone. This will lead to disappointment, discouragement and burnout (the fate of most non-specializing counselors).

If I can see that a client is not a good match for my coaching style, I do not demand they comply with my standards. Instead, I refer them to someone else who is better suited to help them with where they are on their life’s journey. Maybe, at a later date, we will be more compatible.

The easiest sign to identify a novice counselor, coach or consultant, is when he or she says, “I told them what to do and they wouldn’t do it,” with a certain degree of angst. While a more-seasoned professional might say, “I made some suggestions. In my opinion, they did not select the option I might have selected but c’est la vie.”

When someone doesn’t take advice from you and you’ve encouraged him or her to look at all the possible outcomes from various points of view, you might consider applauding them for blazing their own trail, then just sit back and see how their decision works out for them. You might be surprised (as I have been on many occasions) how well things do work out for them, even though you might not have fared as well.

And if things don’t work out for them as well as they’d hoped, for god’s sake do not tell them, “I told you so.” Instead, put yourself in their shoes; how would you feel if you were him or her? A little humility goes a long way. It is not your job to judge, but to empathetically support the client; not to validate your ego-dominated superiority.

Lighten up – Let it be