Expecting nothing and accepting everything today.

Today I woke up feeling a little flat. You know those days where there is nothing in particular wrong, but it’s like you have deflated a little? Just a bit hrmpfh. It didn’t help that I was waking up to face a ten hour shift at work, a place which is currently in a state of shambling chaos with Christmas just around the corner. I am indeed a fan of Christmas and the holiday season, but this is mildly stifled by a lack of air conditioning, guady mall decorations and too many grumpy customers. And so, it only makes sense that I was feeling a little flat, because I had already subconsciously flattened how I expected my day to go. I had automatically decided that work would be long, overly warm and tedious. Looking back, this is unfair and silly of me, to place these expectations of how my day would go, which only serves to dampen and dull how the day will actually go.

I’m not sure if all of this makes much sense. A week or two ago, I wrote about how my therapist introduced me to expecting nothing and accepting everything. Today, I decided to try and put it into practise. And what better day to start with, than one I had already accidently decided wouldn’t be that great?

My aim for the day was to keep drawing my thoughts back to neutrality; to have no expectations and just take everything as it arrived. To begin with, I practiced Autogenic Training, something I’ve been trying to get into the habit of lately. Autogenic Training is about training different parts of your body to relax, as you ask them too. Apparently it takes a while to get it right, and although I have only been doing it for a short amount of time, today I noticed it getting easier. If nothing else, it’s a good way to practice being present and focussing on what is actually happening.

While I was waiting at the bus stop this morning, an old lady came and sat next to me. She immediately started chatting about how she was going on holiday next week, and how she was meeting a friend at a gift shop later, and how warm it is in Brisbane at the moment. It was really nice to connect with a stranger for a small moment, and it felt good that we each got to brighten each other’s day.

Then, I stepped onto the bus, walked down the aisle, and picked a seat. As I sat down, I saw a man running towards me, and to my surprise it was my Great Uncle! We talked about our mutual love of David  Attenborough (although my Great Uncle does believe that the creatures of the deep sea should be left in peace, and not be showcased in a documentary), how neither of us are Star Wars fans, and he pointed out which house he used to steal clippings of their garden from! He is a person I don’t get to see very often, apart from the very occassional family gathering. It was really lovely to reconnect for the duration of a short bus journey with. Although anxiety was being all loud and fussy (quite obnoxious of it really), I did my best, and an ordinary bus journey became something a bit more special.

Work was indeed long and busy, but it wasn’t all bad. It was great to spend time with a bunch of the lovely people I work with, amongst dealing with the actual work as well. The anxiety skulked around, but I made a solid effort to practice small moments of mindfulness throughout the day, and ended up having some pretty cool conversations.

When I eventually got home, my husband and I continued wrapping the last of our Christmas presents (wrapping is one of the best parts about Christmas, right?), and then we made copious amounts of vegan nachoes, and snuggled in bed watching one of our favourite series – Fresh Meat

I’m working on not using my phone right before I go to sleep, so I read a bit of Elizabeth Knox’s Wake, a wonderful New Zealand, gorey dystopian novel (it’s so spectacularly Kiwi!), and wrote down my accomplishment and gratitude lists for the day.

Today was a good day. It was difficult to stay in the whole realm of expecting nothing and accepting everything, and I definitely wasn’t perfect at it. But it was a start, nevertheless, and today was all the more better because of it.


Expecting nothing and accepting everything.

Anxiety and I. We go hand in hand together, some of it necessary, but the majority ridiculous and suffocating. My anxiety and I go through life, with anxiety expecting only ever the worst, and I accepting not very much at all. Or sometimes it’s the other way around. I expect perfection of myself, to be not flawed, and to reach this impossibly high standard of being “good enough”, while my anxiety accepts everything that doesn’t go as planned, or goes wrong, being due to my own flaws. It’s a difficult conundrum.

And then (all thanks to therapy of course; have I ever mentioned how much it has helped me?) here came along a smart guy by the name of Anthony Hopkins. Don’t know who he is? Just think of Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Aside from playing cannibals in horror films, he also has a pretty rad philosophy for life:

“I expect nothing and accept everything.”

Imagine living by this. Accepting everything that happens, and expecting nothing in particular. Merely going through life without the limitations of expectations. How freeing would that be? By all means, still work hard and set goals and aim to live your best life. But our time and energy would not be given to what we believe should happen, and to how we believe we should be performing. This is a waste, as it does not work to change, nor be constructive. Anything good that arises is an unexpected, beautiful joy. And I think we will find that these are closer than we could have ever foreseen.

Golden Hour Photo

The same also works in an opposite way. By have zero expectations, what usually we give negative expectations to, will also, in turn, surprise us. People, situations and interactions, they cannot disappoint us and thus deplete our energy. This doesn’t mean expecting the worst, but rather just not even creating expectations in the first place, and then accepting the outcome.

Within this philosophy, the outcomes of what we do not have control over, simply are as they exist. They hold no power over us, and we do not succumb to the value of mere expectations. Try your best, and accept what happens as a result. Either way, you will either be pleasantly surprised, or feeling neutral, and accepting of the outcome for what it is.

dawn, dust, landscape

However, thinking in this process is difficult and challenging. We have so many expectations every day, most of which we don’t realise are restraining us. We fight outcomes, wasting our energy on what cannot be changed. I am trying to work towards a mindset more centred around expecting nothing and accepting everything, and this is a work in progress. For a start, having the mantra “I expect nothing and accept everything” feels like a good place to begin. I am also going to try and become more aware of my expectations of everything; others, myself and the world. By realizing expectations, and acknowledging how they do not serve me, I think that will help me to change. Continuing to work on the anxiety is also a step in the right direction, as anxiety constantly expects negativity and for me to not be good enough. Therefore, as the anxiety lessens, so too will all these expectations I throw around.

Within this way of thinking, expectations do not hold power over us, and we are not victims to them. Similarly, we become more resilient creatures; able to stand back up and keep trying in the face of adversity. We accept the flow of life, and are moving forward with it, rather than battling against it.