The Pain of Expectation

The human mind inherently triggers emotional reactions when our ideas about how things should be collide with how things are. We sometimes torment ourselves about choices we have made, words we have spoken and the path not taken. We tend to dwell on the future, postponing our happiness with thoughts about what is missing or wrong in the present moment. These thoughts and judgment are the source of our pain of expectation.

With the pain of expectation, we first form an active mental picture of the event that is about to happen. This picture is composed by incorporating past experiences with the current situation and what we believe will happen.   Secondly, the brain regions that are involved with the mental picture interact with the brain area that is responsible for processing pain. As a result the brain regions supporting the experience of pain are modulated by these predetermined expectations.

The mind has a lifetime of conditioned beliefs and expectations through which it filters all perceptions. While the body spontaneously lets go of pain the moment the underlying cause is healed, the mind has a mysterious instinct for holding on. Through the mind, we create a prison of suffering and then forget that we are the engineer and that we ourselves hold the key that will set us free.

Many factors determine the way that expectation is perceived, and expectation can be more intense or less intense depending on the situation. Factors that can alter perception specifically when it comes to expectation include how much attention is focused on the symptom. Individuals also have different expectation thresholds at which sensory nerves that carry information will send those signals.

The sign that it is time to make a move out of a place may include:

  • A sense of lack of purpose- If you are asking what is keeping me here and feel no real connection, pay attention to where your heart is calling you to go.
  • Feelings of a lack of energy-It may feel as if there is no point to it that dismay abounds and the vitality has departed. These are temporary feelings; it is a good idea to examine the situation more closely.
  • A sense of constraint- when the environment around does not foster growth, but instead inhibits your spiritual growth and brings feelings of contraction, it may be time to make the tough decision and move on.

Even after years of experiencing the pain of expectation, we all sometimes make the mistake of believing that something out there makes us angry, depressed, anxious or afraid. In reality, outside events are only triggers. The cause of every emotion is within. By uncovering the false perceptions that cause us to cling to the pain of expectation, we can be open to a deeper experience of peace.