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Expectations. As you hear this word in your mind, what does it conjure for you? For me, it brings up feelings that aren’t really that positive. Honestly, it just reminds me how much I fear disappointment. It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? On one hand, there is something wonderful about the anticipation of what’s to come — at least, when you believe the outcome will be positive. However, the rub comes when we are thiiiiiis close to the anticipated or “expected” outcome, event, or gift, and we begin to doubt or even realize that it’s not going to happen the way we wanted. That’s when we feel the let down, and we tend to slid into a negative emotional state.

So what is the remedy to this quandary? Is it to avoid expectations altogether?

Actually, when it comes to relationships, I dare say the answer is yes!

I know, I know, I can hear the debate going on in your head: “If we never have expectations, how will we ever get our needs met?” “Aren’t we allowed to expect certain behaviors in ourselves or in others?”

Well, my answer no!

Expectation brings disappointment and judgement. What if instead, we replaced those ‘expectations’ with the beauty and trust of hope? Hope, you see, doesn’t come with judgement. When we wrap ourselves and our relationships in hope, we cover them with grace, as well. There can still be great anticipation, but we release the right to judge — and with that, we release ourselves from the harsh letdown of disappointment that often results in anger and isolation. Hope means holding the future a little more lightly, joyfully and eagerly waiting without the death grip of expecting.

This is my challenge to you for this holiday season: replace your expectations with HOPE! Then, notice the difference in your outlook and the space this creates in your heart. It’s ultimately freeing. Give it a try, and thank me later!