Great Expectations: Overcoming Unnecessary Suffering


I woke up on a Friday morning with great expectations. The list included wanting to spend quality time with my partner; making breakfast and drinking coffee in a relaxed manner. This followed by working out, cleaning and organizing my entire house then meeting briefly with a client at noon (already you might be thinking, “All of that by noon?!” Yes, I’m ridiculously driven as well as naive:). This was to be followed by several hours of dedicated writing and packing the car for a weekend in the wilderness. “All of this is to be done by 3:00 pm” I told myself.P_20180928_104356_vHDR_Auto


Morning unfolded in the most pleasant of ways; breakfast and coffee led to running on a path lined with changing deciduous trees near the river with an unexpected sheep which lingered behind us the last 1/2 mile, to whom which we gave the name “Steve”. Finally, looking at my watch, I realized noon was fast approaching. I hadn’t accomplished what I had set out to do for the day. I felt my anxiety rise. I projected into the future, sensing the expectations I had set for the day not being met. Suffering ensued.

Sitting in front of a coffee shop doing my best to remain equanimous, I felt huge waves of anxiety rise and fall. I knew I had to let go of something or this pain would continue and negatively affect my inner tranquility and my relationships with the people around me. I had to look directly at what I choose to value in life.

As a practice for focusing my life, each month I reevaluate my values, goal and action steps (see attached photo). Having this list of values that I’ve created each month is a reference point for having a life well-lived as defined by me.



  1. Myself: Cultivate and care for my physical, mental, and emotional self
  2. People: Family, Partner, Friends, Community
  3. Career; Recovery Coaching, Workshops, Yoga and Meditation, Writing

Looking at this list and cross-referencing it against my current obstacle, I reflected on specific questions. Did I offer myself self-care? Yes. Next on the list are the people in my life. Am I giving 100% of my attention to the person in front of me, whom I choose to spend the majority of my time, to create with, have a career and a life?

It is amazing to me that someone has chosen to spend their life in conjunction with my own. Is this not the most amazing aspect of any relationship? As I realized the answer to my question (if you haven’t gotten it yet, the answer was “no”…) I made the conscious choice to realigning my thoughts, words, and actions with the values I set. Letting go of the expectations I held for myself, I gained back my mental fortitude, equanimity and energy. After jumping over this mental hurdle, I was able to flow through my day with ease and joy. I got what I could done and was able to go camping; truly enjoying myself in the process.

The take-away:

Don’t let your own or others’ expectations lead you away from the values you set. Allow life to unfold in its own time without fighting against reality. This is where happiness can be found.

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Author: Caitlin Hegwood

I create healthy recipes, share natural self-care tips, provide mindfulness practices, offer private and group yoga classes, and health and wellness coaching to my amazing community of wellness seekers. I hope you'll join me on this journey to wellness by subscribing below!

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