When Expectations Lead to Expectorations
The other day I had a moment of crystal clear self actualization and the entire experience was weird af. In a little over ten months of coaching sessions, one topic that always comes up is how your brain will do some wild shit to keep one’s self “safe”. I can believe it but I didn’t realize how far my brain would take that until a walk this past week.
I live in Florida where most of the year it‘s hotter than hot and as a result I try my best, though I‘m not always the best at it, to get in my 64+ ounces of water each and every day. I love water. It’s cooling. It’s refreshing. Water keeps me feeling good. On occasion though I like to mix it up and add a seltzer (I know… I’m living on the proverbial edge here).
Last week I was heading out the door to take my dog on his second walk of the day and instead of reaching for my water bottle, I grabbed a can of seltzer. It was mid morning and already a steamy 80+ degrees. I cracked that bad boy open, took a long, cool, refreshingly fizzy sip and started my stroll. Freaking delicious, I say. We did our usual walk and by the time we made it to the southernmost point of our loop, my ice cold can of seltzer was now just slightly cool and nearly empty. We were passing a recycling bin and so that I could toss the can, (Reduce, reuse, and recycle for f*ck’s sake) I decided to finish the last sip.
I tilted my head back, tipping the can as far as I could to spill the remaining contents into my mouth; the sun was strong and hot, I was so thirsty but as soon as the seltzer reached my mouth, my brain did the weirdest thing… it kept me “safe”.
Without even thinking about it, I spat the seltzer out in a torrent of warm, flat, disgust. During the walk, my seltzer had gone flat. “Gross”, I thought, my nose turned up in disdain, “shit tastes awful.” And then the realization (and of course I had to laugh at myself here):
Seltzer is nothing more than carbonated water. Flat seltzer is water.
I love water. I drink it all. Damn. Day. So why did I hate the flat seltzer? I mean let’s be real, it’s not flat soda… or a flat beer or champagne… once it’s flat… seltzer is literally just water. What was my problem?
I’m not a biologist or scientist or whomever would study something like this, but I’d say that what happened was some sort of evolutionary, brain keeping me safe kinda thing. Our body has a lot of functions to keep its self safe… gag reflex being one of them, and I think a lot of that reflex hinges on split second decision making in the brain as well as, and this is a big one here: our expectations.
Again, not a researcher here but think about it: You’re getting ready to take a big swig of water, without looking, you reach for your cup and take a huge mouthful, except there’s a taste… your brain immediately registers that you are not drinking water, and before you can even register what exactly it is that you are tasting, you’ve already spat it out because your brain did a little “danger alert siren thing” which caused your mouth to immediately evacuate the contents. Lucky for you, you didn’t drink that can of mineral spirits you just happen to keep next to your water bottle. Thanks, brain.
Of course the mineral spirit drinking is a bit extreme (that’s how I roll), but the reality is that our brain does a whole lot of auto pilot stuff to keep us safe. In the case of the mineral spirits, it did a great job… in the case of my seltzer… I wasted my last sip of liquid sustenance on a hot morning walk.
The reality is that the flat seltzer didn’t taste bad. The flat seltzer is water and I love water. The issue here, me spitting the flat seltzer out was purely based on my expectation of what I should have tasted (fizzy delight) and my brain’s auto pilot, split second decision making, when my expectation was not met. Why does this matter?
Every single thing that happens to us in life is neither good nor bad. Our experienced situation is neutral. Our thoughts about the situation is what creates the negative or positive feeling around said situation and our ensuing feeling will then determine the action we take or don’t take and the results we therefore create. Our results in life are literally the product of our thoughts.
Expectations create feelings… Expect one thing and get another? You might just find yourself in an alley, unnecessarily spitting a warm stream of flat seltzer onto a neighbor’s recycling bin (sorry).
My point in all of this is to point out that your brain’s go to for unmet expectations, tends to be knee-jerk… (totally fine in most instances) but something to be cognizant of. Now in no way am I telling you to ditch all your expectations (yeah, I still expect my kids to sit at the table for the duration of dinner lol), but what I am telling you is that when your expectations aren’t met, be weary of where your brain wants to take you… are you going to “Flat Seltzer Disappointmentville” or are you reassessing the situation and enjoying that last sip of water?
Think about it. Bottoms up. ;)
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