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Adjusting expectations

As you get older there’s a few life lessons that get more and more familiar. One of those is ‘lower your expectations’. As a young person I was always looking forward to things or expecting people to do certain things they said they’d do or expect something I was dreading to be awful. But oftentimes those expectations cloud how awesome that dreaded thing actually felt when you finished it or took the shine off that thing you expected to happen but didn’t.

When I took the Anatomy in Motion course this past March we were also told to come in with no expectations. This is one of the tenets of being a good AiM student. And it carries forward to many life lessons.

This month my movement practice has changed dramatically as I’ve gone from rehearsing many hours a week to finding new ways of using my body. I’ve changed fundamentally how I spend my time in my body by standing a lot more when I work, walking a lot more and choosing to sit less. I’m also slowly learning Animal Flow and have been practicing handstands for over a month.

The handstand practice is one area I need to change my expectations. I discovered the other day that although I keep making discoveries about my posture and the techniques of doing handstands that are getting me very slowly to being better at them, there is one thing I am not changing. That is my expectation of falling over as soon as I try.

Sure, when I first began I was terrible at balancing and finding alignment and generally just doing it at all. And of course I’m going to fall over and get right back up again and try. But what my body did was got used to falling over right away. It had an expectation that I would fall over as soon as I tried to balance. And I was wondering why I wasn’t improving how long I could balance.

So I decided to shift this expectation. In order to balance I need to learn and experiment with what I need to do to stay up. So I changed my expectation from ‘kick up to the wall, test, fall’ to ‘kick up, test and FIGHT to stay there, fall’. Just that little adjustment in how long I expected to stay up changed how I practiced and I was actually gaining the skills to learn how to adjust my balance. I was balancing a little longer.

It’s amazing what an expectation can do. That thing you’re dreading, you expect it’ll be awful. But maybe not. That movie you can’t wait to see, maybe you don’t like it. That new job that will be less stressful and with less annoying paperwork. Maybe the commute sucks and the work is stagnating. Or maybe not!