A million or so years ago, (the 80’s) I cut my intuitive teeth doing readings with runes and Tarot cards, the symbolism of which I dedicated many nerdy hours researching. Not long after, my first experience with “oracle cards” occurred in a New Age bookstore. I was buying my high-school crush a Christmas present (a book about Gandhi, but this was before Xbox and PlayStation existed and he was a geek). I was uncomfortable with the slow, trippy, bongo-laden New-Age music playing in the background and the thick incense crawling up my nose but I was intrigued by a little brass bowl on the counter that had tiny little cards in it. No deep esoteric meaning, no arcane symbolism – just little cartoon angels and calligraphic words. Surely it wasn’t a serious source of enlightenment!
The Haight Ashbury-era hippy lady behind the counter said, “Pick one!” I couldn’t have been more out of place in this store; my jacket had a Dead Kennedy’s logo and I was wearing a dog collar, but I was game and I reached in the bowl. I don’t remember what the angel message was, but in my memory it was something about flexibility or letting yourself fit in in a place you didn’t think you belong. To an ostracized, high-IQ nerd who was uncomfortable with empathic and intuitive abilities, this made a lot of sense and I was surprised.
This week’s card from that same deck speaks to us about a similar theme, dealing with our expectations and moving from a place of EXPECTATIONS (I don’t fit in, the only hippy that doesn’t creep me out is Neil on the Young Ones, etc.) and into EXPECTANCY (where you look forward to the gift that is about to be delivered to you.)
What’s the difference between EXPECTATIONS and EXPECTANCY? They’re both ways that we frame reality:
EXPECTATIONS are demands we place on ourselves, the outside world and the people in it. They are our assumptions about life and our idea about what would meet our needs, our vision of what we think MUST be. Expectations are specific, fearful and attempt to rectify the needs, losses and pain within us. Expectations form disappointment when they inevitably aren’t met.
EXPECTANCY is a state of readiness, a willingness to receive, a positive orientation that assumes that whatever is coming towards us, we can use it in some way. Expectancy is not attached to what we think SHOULD be, but rather embraces whatever IS and looks forward to it. Expectancy always forms fulfillment. *See the little angel in the picture? She’s opening a present! THE PRESENT is the present.
To more clearly see the difference, imagine a woman who wants a specific present from her guy. She knows what size she wants, the colour, and if she doesn’t get exactly what she wants, she’ll be heartbroken. She spends her time stressing herself (and him) out in an effort to get exactly what she thinks she needs. Now imagine a kid of Christmas morning, 5 years old and with no idea about what mom or Santa should get him. He sees those presents laid out and he doesn’t know what is in all of them, but he’s looking forward to ripping into them and receiving something great. With no preconceived notion in his mind about what the gift is, his mindset is, “THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!” and he is fulfilled in what he gets.
Relationship psychologist Dr. Chuck Spezzano writes in his book “Wholeheartedness” about expectation:
Expectation and heartbreak go hand in hand. Expectations are subtle, or not so subtle, demands that come from our needs. Expectations will create problems sooner or later, because if our partner bows to them and accedes to our needs, it won’t satisfy us, and our partner will become more unattractive because they are acting from pressure, rather than choice. If our partner does not meet our needs it will frustrate us, disappoint us, or break our heart. We can be disappointed, for different reasons, whether someone does, or does not, meet our needs. Expectations put demands and stress on others, and no matter how well people attempt to satisfy us, it is never enough. The extent to which we feel stress by others’ demands is both to the extent we put those demands on ourself, and to the extent we put those demands on others. Expectations are compensations against our needs, our fear, and our losses. They are pictures about how others and life should be to make up for what was and what is missing in our life. Unfortunately, the more we expect, the less we are able to receive and to be satisfied.
This week, let yourself go outside of your expectations. Go into that metaphorical New Age Bookstore with your Ramones T-Shirt on, don’t ASSUME or demand what life has to offer within and get something great out of the adventure. If you’re expecting a lot out of yourself and have expectations of what YOU need to be, or if you have a lot of expectations about what another person should be doing or saying, then it’s time to let go. Allow yourself to look forward to whatever is coming your way. If you didn’t feel like you needed to control how you were receiving recognition, love and attention, then you might be rewarded in ways you can’t even begin to imagine from that vantage point of “must”…
you might just be surprised!
About this deck: The Original Angel Cards: Inspirations and Meditations by Kathy Tyler and Joy Drake, published by Allegro Corporation, are a simple set of cards that were originally part of a board game. Timeless and classic, this little deck can offer a one-word inspiration or guidance for the day, week or month. You can use an online version of the Angel cards on their Innerlinks site.