The Podcast

Cultivating Expectancy

Season 1 Episode 8

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Hi! I’m Mary Kathleen Scott the artist and printmaker behind Breadcrumbs Studio and the voice here at Discovering Breadcrumbs. My encouragement and thoughts to begin your creative day.

This is a part of The Cultivate Project. A once a month project where I explore mindsets and practices we can cultivate and nurture to bring more care to ourselves and others.

For a short time the Expectancy collection is available as an art print or notebooks. But they are only available until May 17th 2022. After that I’ll move on to the next month’s cultivation project.

As a kid, my parents took us to Disney World for a vacation and upon announcing it, I desperately wanted to head upstairs right away and pack for it. Even though it was a month away. Even the week before leaving, all I wanted was to pack up for it and be ready to go. And the time came and the car trip down was exciting and exhausting, but mostly, I remember the excitement of the trip. And then as we entered the park, even more excitement! In fact, I’d argue based on my memories, that the build up was probably more gratifying than actually being there.

Do you ever feel the same? Maybe it’s the same for you with Christmas, a vacation, a special event? The build up and anticipation leading to it is leaves us feeling happy and hopeful. And the actual day feels as if it’s an end to that. So it feels like the anticipation is the best part.

What if we lived life always within that feeling of anticipation and excitement for what may be coming, even if we really don’t know what’s coming? This is expectancy. It is living a full life content in the moment but always hoping and staying awake to possibility. It is having a child like excitement and anticipation for what the future may be, even if it may not be clear.

Expectancy isn’t something easily put into process in our lives. It comes from deep within. It comes from knowing our identity, being ok with letting go (see the last podcast episode), and drawing from a deep well of gratitude. So lets look at expectancy – how we can cultivate it and why is it so good?

First though, I want to explain that expectancy is not expectation nor is it entitlement. These last two can become toxic to our mindsets and we need to be careful that we don’t slip into one of them rather than living expectantly. Expectancy is living a life with gratitude for what is in our hands while also having hope for the future and looking outwards for what else might be there for us to hold. It’s staying awake to possibility. It is the mindset that we have enough, are enough and believe that there is more to come, although we may not know what that may be, there is an adventure to finding out.

Expectation drifts away from gratitude and instead of looking for possibilities we’re assuming there is something else there for us and we’ve already defined it exactly as we want it. This sets us up for disappointment and because gratitude is not necessarily a part, we become down on ourselves and dislike how things are, leading to a more toxic mindset. It may look like a poverty mindset where we always expect to be stuck where we are because we didn’t get what we expected and we don’t appreciate what we do have.

Entitlement is a whole other beast that disregards gratitude entirely and like expectation can set us up for disappointment but rather than get down on ourselves it’s often manifested through anger or frustration with others, causing relationship strains in addition to toxic mindsets.

When we cultivate expectancy we are choosing to respond to things that happen in our life with hope and encouragement even though we may not know the outcome (there is a certain letting go of control required here) that leads to living with peace in your life.

The opposite choice when those things happen is negativity or fear (probably because we realize we aren’t in control) and this leads to heightened anxiety and a mindset of scarcity which of course is not peaceful.

So it boils down to this: a thing happens to you which path do you choose? Hope or Fear? It takes work to begin choosing hope every time but once you cultivate it enough times it becomes more natural and the easier the choice is. And the more peace you feel, and less anxiety and fear. And as we feel more hope our mindset changes and looks forward and as our mindset changes, the amazing thing is our actions change, which in turn changes our outcomes which enforces our gratitude and peace. Yes, it is a cycle.

And the more our thoughts include expectancy the more our actions will follow those thoughts. So if we have thoughts of expectancy we are cultivating a more positive life. If the thoughts are negative are actions will follow suit and we begin cultivating a frustrating life.

How do we cultivate expectancy? It’s tied up with cultivating other mindsets, and I’ll be talking about these in later months, but by cultivating and paying attention to them we can truly create new mindsets that pull us out of anxiety and into a more peaceful life.

1 – Think and pay attention to the beautiful and the lovely. If you’ve listened to the previous episodes, you know I love Twyla Tharp. She has a little game to trick her mind.  She tells a friend everyday something good from that day. It forces her to find even the smallest goodness in each day. Find the good everyday, even if it’s a hard day and you begin training your mind to find the good in situations. This spurs on thoughts of expectancy and hope rather than fear.

2 – Start a gratitude practice. I said in the beginning that expectancy stems first from a place of gratitude. It’s similar to above but it’s imperative to find hope and abundance in your life and mindset. This helps us with the contentment and appreciation for the now while also holding a hope and imagining our future.

3 – Take your thoughts captive. How do you respond to your thoughts? Everyone has negative thoughts and everyone has positive thoughts – it’s what we do with them that matter. Do we respond with negativity or is it with hope? Negativity leads to fear and anxiety. Hope leads to expectancy and peace.

4 – I also mentioned BJ Fogg’s book, Tiny Habits in a previous episode. In one chapter, he explains waking everyday with one positive affirmation statement said out loud goes a long way to building up a sense of hope and expectancy. Even starting with a simple statement such as “Today is a great day.” works wonders.

In these ways I hope we build up expectancy and begin to tear down our anxieties.

As a person of spiritual faith, I can’t quite stop here when it comes to expectancy because I’ve seen it work in my own life. It quite literally changed me. Whereas my reactions to situations before I cultivated expectancy were negative, filled with anxiety and to say a little dramatic. Now when I’m faced with similar situations there is peace, calm, and my eyes are open to little miracles and goodness and lessons within.

How I got here was a journey of faith. Practicing gratitude was one of the number one ways that helped me but I have to explain a little further in what else helped.

Before, I used to believe my identity was in what I did. You can listen to the last episode to hear more on that, but basically I was searching for my path for so long because I believed I had to achieve something to be identified as successful. I learned thought that when we live with our identity rooted in what we do, we are living with expectation. It’s ok, because this is how our world trains us. We are rewarded every time we perform well. But every time we perform well, we are handed a new task to perform and expected to perform it well. In other words, you’ve done great, now do more. And it builds. But this performance driven work is rooted in striving. And striving is tiresome and at some point there’s a peak. Then what? We can’t keep this up. Its so hard and it’s killing our mental health.

Now, my identity is rooted in who I am, a child of God. And because I’m a child I have a relationship with him that allows me to do things I know I’m called to do without having to reach a performance bar. In fact I may never know the impact I have on this world while living but I can trust that there is one as long as I’m working in my purpose for that season.

Living this way is more day to day, but also more adventurous and when I discover something new it’s with gratitude and excitement. It’s quite literally living like a child who is taken care of and given everything they need. So instead of living with expectation to perform and receive praise for it, I’m living with expectancy, wondering what the next day will bring with anticipation. I get to play each day in the work I do. It doesn’t mean I always like my work but I rest in the confidence that I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.

I’ve come to find that God does not work on expectations. This is formulaic living. You do this, you get this. He doesn’t want that from us. Instead he wants us to have a relationship with him where we work with him and depend on him rather than on a formula.

Well, I could probably talk about this all day and for the next week because it’s been such an eye opening and dramatic change in my life. But I do try to keep these episodes shorter and it’s that time. I hope you have a wonderful month cultivating expectancy into your life.

Welcome to Discovering Breadcrumbs and the Cultivate Project – the inspiration for this podcast.

Hi! I’m Mary Kathleen Scott the artist and printmaker behind Breadcrumbs Studio and the voice here at Discovering Breadcrumbs. My encouragement and thoughts to begin your creative day.

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