Expectation vs. Acceptance: Finding Peace in Letting Go

Expectation vs. Acceptance

In the coaching world, there’s a popular saying: “Have no expectations, and you’ll never be disappointed.” This notion seems sensible at first glance, but does it hold up under scrutiny?

Consider this: without expectations, you would never feel upset, disappointed, or angry when outcomes don’t align with your hopes. Free from these emotions, you would remain calm, at peace, and at ease. Yet living a life without expectations is unrealistic, isn’t it?

Having an expectation as ‘a belief that something will happen because it is likely.’ In most instances, you do something with a positive expectation and desire for a specific outcome to be achieved, and when it materializes, you feel happy, excited, accomplished, and satisfied.

Now when you look at the statement “Have no expectations, and you’ll never be disappointed,” the issue at hand is having an expectation.

If you didn’t have any, you would not feel any upset when these expectations were not met. Correct?

Well, not exactly.

The core problem isn’t the expectation itself – it’s your attachment to the outcome of that expectation.

Often, you have an expectation and want a certain outcome to happen because it will give you something you want, need, desire, or depend on to be happy, feel successful, feel loved etc.

It’s this attachment to the outcome that creates disappointment.

It would be more accurate to say, “Have expectations, but be detached from the outcome, and you won’t feel disappointed.” This way of being allows us to accept any outcome: if things go as hoped, great; if not, that’s also fine. Instead of feeling disappointed, you feel calm, able to accept what didn’t happen the way you wanted it to and move forward without being upset.

God-realized master Paramahamsa Vishwananda puts it very simply and succinctly, “Accept whatever God is giving you in life. Without acceptance, everything becomes difficult. But when you accept life as it is, whether it is good or not good, you can handle anything with ease.”

When I was doing my Honours degree at Wits University, many moons ago, I had a profound realization. Back then, ‘E-mail’ had just been invented. Unlike today’s graphics-based versions, it operated on DOS and was purely text-based. Once you had composed an email and wanted to send it, pressing a particular button on the keyboard would prompt you to either [Accept and Continue] or [Cancel]. Once you chose [Accept and Continue], the message was sent.

I remember looking at this command one day and I started to laugh. I realized this is a metaphor for life: Accept whatever happens – good or bad – and continue.

Apply this mantra to the outcome of any expectation you have, and you’ll notice you will experience considerably less, and eventually, no agitation, disappointment, or anger but rather calm acceptance of what is. By practicing this approach, you can maintain a sense of inner peace and resilience, allowing you to navigate life’s challenges more effectively and with greater confidence and grace.

How does this help you?

Accepting reality keeps your mind at ease, your emotions balanced, and your body relaxed. You become more effective, efficient, and energetic, making life a more pleasant, fulfilling, and enjoyable journey.

find inner peace


Learning to detach from the outcomes of our expectations is easier said than done but worth trying, isn’t it?

The point is to practice this detachment.

Picture your expectation as a boat leaving the harbor.

You may feel excited, happy, or simply calm as it sails toward its destination.

Continue with your life.

If the boat returns with what you desired, wonderful; if not, that’s okay too.

All you do is Accept and Continue.


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About Dr. Sonja Jahn

Conscious entrepreneurs, leaders and change makers from all over the world seek out Dr. Sonja Jahn’s unique skills and proven system to free themselves of their subconscious blocks, beliefs and behaviours. As a result, they experience a positive and lasting transformation and achieve a greater level of success and satisfaction in their professional and personal life. Read more...