Lesson Ten: Release Expectations and Detach from the Drama

This lesson is divided into two sections on expectations and drama. My life of depression felt like a telenovela, with drama that always centered around me and my pain. I expected certain things to turn out differently and when it didn’t my depression would make everything worse. I expected other to save me and when they didn’t I built it up into the biggest mountain of sh*t. There came a point in my healing where I realized that only I could truly save myself. I know what’s best for me and what I need. Other people can try to save us, but it will always be in their vision, not ours. So if someone else is saving us, are we really getting what we need?


Part One: Those Pesky Expectations:

Expectations come in different ways. We expect others to react a certain way. We expect events to turn out a certain way. We expect people to read out minds and know exactly how we feel. You see where I’m going with this? Expectations are great for personal achievement, but in regard to everything else, it doesn’t always turn out the way we want.

Life is going to give you all sorts of expectations. Some are great, like expecting to be respected and being happy. Others are not so great, like expecting people to change for you or the idea that if only you had that one ‘important thing’ you’d be happy.

If you want to heal, you must release the expectations that life owes you anything other than the opportunity to be alive. Release the thoughts that others should be more considerate, that you should be happier, that life should be easier.

Don’t SHOULD all over yourself.

Are you having a bad day and everyone is in your way? Release the expectation that others should feel your pain or get out of your way and be nice to you. They have their own stuff to deal with and have a right to be here. Change your attitude. Practice self-care that cheers you up. Watch a funny video, listen to an uplifting song, repeat your favorite mantra or meditate.

Do you dislike your job, but need to keep it to pay your bills? Release the expectation that you should have found a better job already. Embrace the moment you are in and allow yourself to be happy while you wait for and work toward this new transition.

Is your grief too powerful for smiles and sunshine? Release the expectation that you must put on a brave face. Allow yourself to feel the sadness of loss. It’s okay for others to know you are sad. Being sad is not a weakness. It is a valid emotion.

There’s a third-eye opening TED Talk by Janice Vilhaur about expectations, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwLeiY5f7sI, that I highly recommend you watch. She shared 3 questions we can ask in getting what you want vs. what you expect. ‘How is what I’m expecting making me feel?’ If it’s positive you’re good. If it’s negative ask yourself, ‘What would I like to have happen instead?” and ‘What do I need to do to make what I want happen?’

My theory is that expectations are really possibilities. A powerful ability we all possess is imagination. When things aren’t going the way I expect, I look for alternative ideas. Some are wild and some unrealistic, but it gives me a chance to explore and find new solutions. There’s almost always another path to try. When there isn’t you can most likely move forward at the next junction with a little more knowledge under your skin.

Remember there will be days and moments when life is devastating or annoying. That’s okay. You can overcome obstacles and move forward! RELEASE the expectation that you deserve an easy path in life. 

Action One:

Answer the following questions in our journal.

  1. When was the last time you expected something to happen and it turned out completely different?
  2. How did you react?
  3. Did something good happen from this event?
  4. What expectations do you need to release to heal?


Part Two: Detach from the Drama!

Telenovelas are fun to watch, but they fill our heads with drama that is completely unnecessary. I used to be addicted to television and movies. Instead of living my own life and risking failure I could experience the world and have a thousand different lives in a hundred different places via television. I was also sucked into thinking my life journey was going to be filled with drama, as if there was no other way to live. But there is a way to live without the draining drama.

My favorite coping mechanism was living in a fantasy world where I could be the hero. Since I couldn’t name my pain I imagined other more tangible pains that were present in the worlds of others. I could escape in a book, in a movie or by daydreaming instead of dealing with my pain or seeking help. These fantasy worlds were often negative, centered on themes of horror and drama that are so popular in our media. My depression worsened as my thoughts guided me to even more darkness.

The drama of entertainment also spilled over into my interactions with others. I wasn’t really disconnecting fantasy with reality. I expected life to unfold like a movie, but there’s a big difference between being able to film the same scene until it’s perfect and being in the real time moment.

“Cut loose the negative drama and immerse in what is.”


Ask yourself if it’s worth it next time you are about to get into a situation that will consume your energy and fill your life with negativity.

  1. What’s the drama?
  2. Who/What is the root cause?
  3. Is this an important problem or can I simply let it go?
  4. If it is important what are all the possible solutions?


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