The Scale of Expectation

Where do you place yours?

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I've been on the Creative Mindfulness journey for a while now and I am still continually surprised by what can pop up. This week I have questioned my expectations of the outcomes of what I am looking to achieve in my life.

As well as helping people with self discovery, unearthing their creativity and transforming lives with Attentive Art, I am also an artist and writer. This means that I regularly send submissions for print and exhibition opportunities. With this comes a scale of expectation. 

Let me ask you a question: When you apply for an opportunity, whether that be a job, a place at college, an art gallery or publishing contract, what do you expect will happen as a result? 

You must think you have a chance or you wouldn't have applied in the first place. Maybe it is a job you don’t really want but you need the money, so you expect to at least get an interview but are secretly hoping you don’t. Perhaps you apply for positions because you think they will be easy to get, believing on some level that what you really want to do is out of reach. Or maybe it is a given; you 100% know you are in. What if you don’t think you have a single tiny hope but you apply because you really really want it so you think you have nothing to lose? 

I have a couple of examples of this:

In 2019 I submitted a painting to the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition. It is the largest international open art exhibition. It had 12000 applications of which 4000 were shortlisted and invited to physically deliver their artwork. ‘Not me’ I thought, no way. But I did it anyway. When I received an email inviting me to take my painting there in person I walked into town to my husband’s work and made him read the email to check I hadn't read it wrong. I took my painting to London, watched the TV programme where I spotted the back of my head. My painting wasn’t selected for the exhibition but it was still a great achievement and knowing what I do now about energy and expectation, I wonder if it might have got in if I had totally expected to. 

Having left home at age 17, I didn’t start university till I was 21. I wanted to go to Brighton to study Fashion. I hadn’t formally studied fashion or textiles, I got an interview but I didn’t get in. I did get into Manchester. I did a year there and tried to sidestep my way into the second year at Brighton. I supplied a portfolio and secured an interview after which I heard nothing. My friends said I should give up but I wanted to go to Brighton so badly that I only expected a positive result. I rang them again a few more times saying my tutors needed to know if they could give my place to someone else. I didn’t give up. I got in.

If you knew your success was guaranteed, what would you apply to do? Would you submit poetry to a magazine? Join an orchestra? Apply for Masterchef? Start a business?

What opportunities have you not undertaken because you ‘knew’ there was no point in trying? Where have you underestimated yourself? What would you love to do? 

If you want to explore this further, imagine a horizontal line with zero on the left and 10 or 50 or 100, or bronze, silver and gold - however you want to rate your experiences - on the right. Think of situations where you could have stretched your expectations, when you opted for the easy version, when you really went for it. Be honest with yourself, what were your expectations? Now, think about current things you want to do, or are considering. What do you expect the outcome to be? How would it feel different if your success was guaranteed?

Where would you put yourself on that scale?

Something I noticed about the two situations I outlined earlier: 

  1. I first went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition when I was 14. I decided I wanted to take part one day. When I was 24 a family friend had tickets to the private view and couldn’t go so I went. 
  2. My sister was at Brighton University, I’d spent time visiting her there. To me at the time Brighton seemed like the most fun place to live and I wanted part of the action. 

My point being that I had an element of familiarity with the thing I wanted. I could (almost) imagine it being a reality which made it much easier to bring about a successful result. 

What I was doing without realising was visualising myself in the situation I wanted, this made it familiar to my subconscious which it then registered as a safe response and (for once) I didn’t unconsciously sabotage it in an attempt to keep me safe from a perceived threat. 

Fast forward several years and I’m now a certified Creative Mindfulness Coach and Solution Focused Brief Therapist. Solution Focused Therapy is all about visualising your desired outcome and Attentive Art Coaching mixes this with art, writing and a creative approach. So if you would like some help with your expectations, drop me a line  and let’s talk. 

Expect the best and have a lovely week. X

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Sophie Walker

Mindful Creativity Practitioner, Artist and Writer., Attentive Art

I'm an Artist who studied psychology and mindfulness to help myself overcome some of life's challenges. Now I help others to do the same using creativity and psychology. I believe creativity holds the key to the enjoyment of life and I want to help everyone to feel good about yourself and your life.