Inside: Expectations and attachments can gnaw at our happiness. When life deviates even in a small way from the plan, we become dissatisfied. And so we begin a craving for control that, in turn, becomes a recipe for suffering, even in the best scenarios. This week, Jason shares a 4-step You-CUE plan for how to let go of expectations and see the people, situations and choc-chip cookies in your life for the good they bring so that you can go for your dreams without fear.
Powered by RedCircleHey guys, Jason here (again).
Dayna is back, but not yet back in this time zone, so I’m flying solo again.
Now, I love Dayna dearly, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still sometimes fight.
And last night, I got into one I bet will sound familiar.
You see, Dayna was folding laundry – which was really very helpful – but she was not doing it the way I do, the way that makes them fit nicely in the cupboards. So I told her all about how she was doing it wrong.
And the result? She stopped folding laundry altogether.
How many times have you done something similar? With the dishwasher, the mowing, putting the children to bed? And when they stop bothering, you think, “Now I have to do everything myself,” or “It just never gets done.”
I know – I’m 100% guilty of that.
But why do we fall into this trap?
You see when we expect things to happen in a certain way, we become attached to the outcome.
Let me explain. Have you ever had high hopes for a much-hyped movie, like the latest Star Wars, but find it never lives up to the hype? This is because things rarely turn out as we expect them to, and yet we feel disappointed when they don’t.
So, this week, I want to share a 4-step You-CUE plan for how to let go of expectations and your desire to control the outcome so you can see people, situations, and choc-chip cookies in your life for the good they bring rather than for what they are not.
So make sure to check out the full episode here.
So let’s dive in!
The Attachment Trap
Turns out this is a trap as old as time. It was Buddha himself who said
“The root of suffering is attachment.” (*Buddha)
You see, expectations are the precursors to attachment. When we have hopes and dreams for the future, when we set goals and have desires for things, we start to form expectations of how we want these things we want to be. We easily get attached to the desired outcome on how things should unfold.
But here’s the catch – even when we get our desires but those expectations aren’t fully met, cue the disappointment, unhappiness, and suffering. It’s a reality we all face, as the more expectations we have, the more chances there are for letdowns.
This doesn’t only impact us on a personal level – the burden of our unmet expectations often spills over into our relationships with others because, in this way, we often become a source of stress for them.
When we’re in this place, it’s so easy to see our expectations as obligations for others to fulfill. (Do I have to mention that we’re doing this to those we care about the most.)
So attachment is: when we get stuck on the specific way things should be that we fail to see the good in what is.
(If you want to hear an awesome analogy involving chocolate chip cookies, you’ll have to check out the full episode on YouTube)
So, how do we get the family we want and have goals for making things better without getting caught in the attachment trap?
*Unconfirmed Report of Buddha’s actual words
Now that we have an idea of what attachment is let’s bring together expectations, attachment, control, and their impact on parenting.
Well if you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know we use the You-CUE framework – that’s You, Connect, Understand, Empower – for just about everything. And this is no different.
So let’s start with YOU, your thoughts, mindset, and the way you show up.
Do you worry that you are not enough? That you know how you want to parent but regularly fall short? Do you worry that your kids aren’t enough? That they will need to learn so many skills if they are to be successful in life.
If that’s you, you’ve fallen into the attachment trap.
But the truth is, none of us are fully equipped for every situation, and we don’t have all the necessary resources exactly when we need them. But that’s okay; we’re all a work in progress.
The key is to find that balance between desire and expectation. It’s about navigating the fine line between wanting, dreaming, and desiring on one side and the pressure of expectations and the need to control everything on the other.
This is why celebrating mistakes is also an important part of the journey. Because it’s imperfection where growth and expansion lie. So, embrace every screw-up, every moment we got it wrong as a time we when we learned.
And when you get trapped in the attachment trap, it can be really hard to see. Because you are inside it, you can only see the “this is how it is”.
Picture this: You’re stuck inside a tightly sealed Coke bottle, and the directions for escape are printed on the outside of the can. The catch is, in order to read them, you have to break free first.
So what would you do? The answer is pretty obvious – you need someone from outside the can to guide you.
That’s where our coaching program at Calm the Chaos shines. After helping thousands of parents through our program, we’ve seen where you get stuck, we know the traps you fall into.
(It’s why I’m so passionate about what we do and why I believe everyone should have a copy of the Calm the Chaos book. It comes out on August 15th. Pre-order your copy to get access to 3 exclusive bonuses!)
In fact, I was coaching Sarah within our coaching program just the other day, and it was a perfect example of how we fall into this trap even when things go really well. And it demonstrates the second piece of our framework – Connection – really well.
Here’s the scene: Sarah, mom-extraordinaire, her two kids, a friend, and a frisky dog out on a walk. Everything is going well until the dog decides to take a quick dip in a stream and playfully splashes Sarah’s daughter (7), who hates being wet.
Her older brother (11) can’t help laughing because it looks funny. Now the girl is not only wet but also embarrassed because her brother is laughing at her. And just like that, a fun walk becomes a minefield for Sarah to navigate.
Now Sarah knows the framework, and she knows her kid. So, she gets closer and lower and just says:
“Hey, I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m here for you – I’m just gonna walk a little ahead so you have space to figure out what you need.”
She didn’t use too many words. She struck a perfect balance of giving space but staying available. She let go of the worry her friend was judging her and her daughter. Everyone got back safe and connected, as no blaming or shaming occurred.
In a nutshell – she nailed it!
But just because it took 45 minutes, way longer than expected, she began worrying about her seeming ‘failure’ to quickly shift her daughter’s bad mood.
In my opinion, she navigated the situation like a pro… respecting her children’s feelings and providing support just the way they needed – the core of Connection in our framework
But just because one aspect didn’t meet her expectations for herself, she deemed herself a failure.
Sarah’s expectation was that she could control her daughter’s emotions by the way that she reacted to the situation. Now while we don’t have all the details, let’s imagine what might have been under the surface of her daughter’s bad mood.
Maybe Sarah’s daughter was hungry and tired from the walk. Maybe the social interaction had left her overwhelmed. Maybe she needed to feel safe from the unintentional yet hurtful laughter of her brother. And she was certainly cold, uncomfortable from being wet.
All this meant she just did not have the resources left and just needed peace and a breather to recalibrate her inner balance.
Apart from giving her the space she needed and helping her feel safe – which she did – all the others were beyond Sarah’s control in that moment.
When we are attached to the outcome, we often assume we have control over it. This leads to a vicious cycle of blaming and shaming ourselves.
And there we land on the ‘Empower’ element of our framework.
Sarah managed to skillfully navigate the interplay between her children, ensuring everyone got home safe, with no blame or shame games. For all her kids’ big emotions, Sarah was their rock.
She empowered her children, teaching them through her actions to navigate life’s trickier moments with understanding and kindness.
But after the storm, not only did Sarah start to beat herself up about not being able to “fix” her bad mood, she began to worry about the future, “She’s not even a teen yet. What will I do when she is?”
But the truth is, her girl is only seven. She hasn’t learned this yet, but Sarah was actually a fantastic role model and guide for how to do this.
But still, Sarah is not satisfied. Why?
It’s her attachment to things going perfectly that is stealing her happiness. She’s starting to feel the strain, and that’s what this blog post is really about.
My Advice Would Be…
Expectations and attachments can gnaw at our happiness. When life deviates even in a small way from the plan, we become dissatisfied. And so we begin a craving for control that, in turn, becomes a recipe for suffering, even in the best scenarios.
Release your expectations of the outcome. Simple, right?
Yes, but not easy. Sometimes it’s near impossible.
It’s actually a journey that requires grace, compassion, and a good hard look in the mirror at how we’re showing up for ourselves every day.
There is a key mindset shift that I use in order to help me release my attachment to the outcome.
Everything is working out in your favor.
I know it might sound surreal, but looking at the world this way changes everything. Instead of seeing problems, you start to see solutions staring you in the face.
Releasing the attachment to the outcome can not only radically increase your happiness but also your ability to solve the challenges you are facing.
So, my advice would be…
Instead of looking back with regret, focus on the things that turned out good and move forward one step at a time… Imperfectly, as we all do.
And, as Dayna would say:
Remember – you’ve got this.
See you next time,
– – –
Calm the Chaos Parenting is a podcast offering parents practical tools and strategies to navigate the challenges of raising strong-willed, highly sensitive, and neurodivergent children.
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