Which Came First? Expectations or Beliefs

Seed of Change Cropped
“Seed of Change” oil painting by Rose Wolfe

Several years ago, I came to the stunning realization that I was wasting my life.  My pre-judgments were determining my perception of events.  I should have figured this out long ago, but I was too busy reacting.

You’ve done it, too.  Someone looks at you.  You interpret the look, and, boom, off you go with your emotions riding high.

We have a predilection to interpret events based on our assumptions.  In fact, we will often lie to ourselves.  “I am right.”  We tell ourselves. No reason to test the veracity of what we think.  Humbleness is a lost art – if it ever was an art.

I wonder, do we have the capacity to be less reactionary?  Why do we jump from perception to conclusion?  What dusty rooms in our collective minds need cleaning out and rearranging?

Every time we agree or disagree with someone, we are reinforcing a belief – the unspoken adherence to a system of truths.  Most often, we do not bother to test out our theories before we adopt them as truth.  It is this factor alone that bothers me the most.  I know I am guilty as charged.  Yes, I have a trailer truck of conviction debris that I am pulling along behind me.

Acknowledgment is good, but how do we unshackle ourselves from our burden of labeling others (and ourselves, also)?

Let’s start at the beginning.  How would we describe our childhood, our adulthood?  What did we expect to happen along the way?  What do we believe to be the reasons behind the events of our story?  Come on, we all have a story.  We have written it and are now living it.  It is our reality.

The next part gets tricky.  Our reality feels very real to us, but it is not reality.  Huh?

I don’t know which came first, expectations or beliefs.  What I do know is that they are circular.  Our expectations and beliefs drive each other.  The end result is our reality.  Nevertheless, we can change it.  How?  By changing them.  Challenge our expectations, beliefs, and interpretations.  It may feel as if our landscape is quicksand, but we are not stuck.  The way out is through the pathway of self-examination.

The journey to a new reality begins with a reinterpretation of our story and, by default, a redefinition of our personal reality.  Start telling yourself new stories.  Not only who and what you are, but tell yourself new stories about the guy you pass every day.  You know, the guy begging for money.

How would you describe him?  Have you written him off as an alcoholic, a druggie, a bum?  What if you are right?  Does it matter?  Does it relieve you of compassion?

One time, I was sitting in my wheelchair waiting for my husband to pick me up after a doctor’s appointment.  It was a beautiful summer day, and I rolled over to a nearby park.  Across the street was an elitist residence tower for the rich and wannabe famous.  My book was tucked behind me in a bag just out of reach.  As the noble walked by, staring straight ahead, I attempted to get their attention.

“Excuse me.”

“Wait, I don’t want any money.  I just need . . .”

“Please, could you . . .”

Over and over again, I tried.  Not one person even turned their head.

Finally, a little woman pushing a shopping cart piled high with plastic bags, shuffled over.  “Do you need help?” she asked.

“Yes, would you reach into my bag and get my book out?”

She reached in, handed me my book, and smiled at me.

I smiled back.



Published by

Rose Wolfe (Living Free with disAbilities)

Let's get to the elephant first: I have myotonic dystrophy which defines my physical limitations, but it does not define me. Without the distraction of physical activities, I have found my passions: (1) Encouraging others to live more fully with fun, faith, and hope; (2) finding freedom in oil painting; (3) writing about my experiences; and (4) encouraging others to live more passionately. It is my belief that every person lives with at least one disability - for impairments are not limited to those with chronic illnesses. Many neurotypical people are psychological architects who have constructed enclosures in which they trap themselves. Mindsets, attitudes, and perceptions are fluid realities. Many of us have forgotten that it is possible how to live beyond our disabilities. Life may have challenges but faith and hope are within reach. I have made my choice: I am LivingFreeWithdisAbilities.

8 thoughts on “Which Came First? Expectations or Beliefs”

  1. I should be moved further by that example, but it is the sad truth today. I can see how people can be torn with their assumption based conscience on whether or not to ‘hand out’ and by those that even care enough to ponder it before shaking it off… rarely does it progress to that level.
    The flip side in some cases is that we could be enabling someone and by doing so not being so helpful, but however they got there I keep an open mind and mind my own and give them a scarf I am wearing or change – I cant watch our youth today on the streets without doing something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a conundrum. However, before we assume, we need to ascertain the facts as much as possible. One solution is to buy food. Another is keep a “goodie bag” in our car (toothbrush, toothpaste, moist wipes, pair of socks, peanut butter, gift certificate from local restaurant, etc.). A third option is your example. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is something we came too since it wasn’t always practical to go to dinner with a bag full of scarves and other on the chance we would see people. And benefit then for both parties. I think we were also moving towards free food from the overspill from supermarkets instead of the wasted overflow, but then health and safety comes into it. but, yes plenty of solutions, what we are short of are like minds. And unmentioned yes, guilty…your pictures make this more of a learning curve treat. Lovely.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. I have read this a third time and there is so much to think about. I believe it was Aristotle or Socrates (I get those bookend thinkers mixed up all the time) that said the unexamined life is not worth living. The other thought that surfaced was that “Man looks on the outwork appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Yet the title of this blog tells much. I like the idea of the twins of perception and belief marching round and round our personal filters that have evolved in our upbringing. Your personal story is a sad poignant reality that made you think. Wow. Again the painting is so fitting to the words expressed.
    I showed my daughter (who is an artist) your work and her word was ‘brilliant’ after seeing several of your pieces.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very profound, and so very true. We need to let go of the past, think positively about the present and the future, and be kind & loving toward others. That’s why we need to “put on the mind of Christ” because it sure can be difficult to do it on our own!


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