As you can tell, I am still thinking about Thomas Knauer‘s article in Modern Patchwork. So … let’s start a process and see what happens. I want each of you to close your eyes and envision beginning whatever it is that you might choose to do. This can be starting a quilt (lol), meal planning for the week on your diet, opening the blank canvas, getting your clay ready for the wheel, threading your embroidery machine, or any host of activities. Let’s watch what happens. As we start, we feel so excited, and then comes picturing the end. The perfect quilt, losing 5 pounds this week, your best painting, the perfect modern sculpted vase, your finest embroidery design, …. the list continues. But wait, then we move into expectations. When this final amazing process is finished, I will have money, praise, rewards, admiration, happiness, respect, the award, the trophy…. and even LOVE! Ooooops. We just did it. So what do we do? We learn detachment. Yes, detach from those expectations.
Now, I hear your inner voices saying… what??? Give up my expectations??? But let’s phrase it this way. I start a quilt; I love the design; it is so cool looking; it fits in with so many modern rooms; I expect it to sell. With that last thought, I just plunged into the world of probable disappointment and discouragement. It is a tough lesson, but we all have to accept that we control our attitudes, and to some extent our thoughts and behaviors, but really not much else.
Many people give up their dreams by focusing on their expectations. Each time our expectations aren’t met, we get a little more discouraged. No one wants to publish my beautiful poem; no one buys beautiful art any more; no one values hand-made products; everyone is too self-absorbed to notice my weight loss. Oh dear… we just spiraled down. We do this in relationships also…. we expect praise, admiration, respect, love… and when those assurances are not returned, we take on our negative thinking once again.
Many of my students argue that giving up expectations means giving up hope. Who wants to live hopeless? I feel that hope can exist without attaching to the expectation. I hope it will sell…. but I don’t know when. I hope they praise me, but I am proud all by myself. I hope I win the trophy, but I am so excited about my personal accomplishment in and of itself. Now all of those last statements sound like Pollyannaisms! This is pure bs….. But, wait for it, it isn’t.
As I start a new quilt, (which, yes, does need to sell!) I try to simply immerse myself in the process. The colors of the fabric, the different patterns that can be produced, even the smoothness once all the fabric is ironed! For me, I now recognize when my inner voice starts shifting into those expectations. And I stop…. take a minute… and remind myself, “I don’t control the one person that will someday see this quilt and say, ‘Yes, that’s perfect for me.'” That sounds easy; it is NOT. I cannot tell you what will work for you, but I truly watch my inner voice all the time and try to stop and correct it. While I have developed my own inner script (“There you go again. Expecting responses from external sources. Remember you only control you, nothing else.”), you can develop your own.
Oh… I hear your inner voices again. “This is ridiculous. I think I deserve other people’s…..love, respect, etc. Especially from my closest friends and significant others and parents….. ” The hard part is that deserve is not really in the equation. For me, stopping the inner voice as soon as possible is important.
So try this… do something. Whether it is getting out the camera or buying flowers for someone (Mother’s Day is tomorrow!). As your inner voice begins to shift to expectations, stop breathe and create your script (“I don’t control what someone else says or does”) … or something similar…. and breathe again. Letting go of expectations will eventually be freeing. I find that my creativity expands and takes over when I realize the expectations that I have no control over. Suddenly, I see new patterns, new color combinations, new designs… and I find myself in my bubble of contentment.
Detachment from expectations is hard work. But, I promise it is worth it. It takes determination, and real awareness of your thought process. It takes practice to stop that inner voice and send it a reply. However, the most creative people I know seem to do this effortlessly. Yet, we must remember, we never know how hard someone has to work at this, but I do believe highly successful people master this.
So … go forth and start or do something…. and attempt to stop that inner voice.
Sew much love to all, Mimi.