Great Expectations


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. ― Tao Te Ching



I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young man who was reading a philosophy book.

His behavior and his evident good health made him stand out from the other inmates.

I sat down beside him and asked:

‘What are you doing here?’

He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors, he replied:

‘It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like him. My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his example. My mother wanted me to be the image of her beloved father. My sister always set her husband before me as an example of the successful man. My brother tried to train me up to be a fine athlete like himself.

And the same thing happened at school, with the piano teacher and the English teacher – they were all convinced and determined that they were the best possible example to follow. None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.

So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.’

Kahlil Gibran


The expectations we place on ourselves and others can create deep feelings of inadequacy, separation and unhappiness.

When I detach from the expectations I place in my life and on others, whether it is good or bad, I become open and expansive.  In doing this, I allow life to unfold as it should, I become present to each experience and this allows everyone the freedom to be exactly who they are meant to be.




40 thoughts on “Great Expectations

      1. Today, I will let things happen without worrying about the significance of each event. I will trust that this will bring about my growth faster than running around with a microscope. I will trust my lessons to reveal themselves in their own time.

        ~ Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series (Hazelden Publishing; December 12, 2009

  1. A lovely post Karen. Letting go really comes to the fore in the Northern Hemisphere as we embrace the Fall. I’m working on a Yin Workshop about this. In Chinese philosophy it’s a time for releasing stuck emotions and tensions in the body and mind. 💛🙏💛

    1. Yes it’s a perfect season to use as a metaphor to shed our old stories and tensions in our body Val. Love the sound of your workshop! 👏 I am learning to focus more on re-connecting to my true self, rather than focusing on what I am doing wrong or what I have to let go of, it’s really powerful and feels lighter to do.So I say words like, I am…strength, love , harmony, wisdom, presence etc. I have a mantra for each chakra. It’s Beautiful 💚💕

  2. Letting go of expectation has been such a healing for me. Expectation of others leads to disappointment and resentment. Letting go of them brings delight. Toward self as well. I loved David’s comment. So simply wise.
    Thanks Karen! ❤

      1. Yes, me too – and visa versa.
        Yes, David is wise.
        Book hasn’t started yet. I had a really busy summer. I was thinking I’d start in November. How about yours? ❤

      2. Good to hear! We need your book out there Mary! I’m going well, I took a few weeks to get my outline on track and now I am really on my way. I feel confident I know my story well and it feels good to write. 💕👏

  3. Wow, Karen, this is the first time I’ve read or heard about this Kahlil Gibran story ~ wonderful. There is one book of philosophy I return to quite a bit, and that is the Dao de Jing. The quote you opened with “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need” is something more important as we fall further into technology and the world of social media. It makes it so much harder to do, but that much important too.

    1. I was surprised he wrote this too, I’m not sure of its original source, I found it on Pinterest. I love Daoism, but the older I get and the more I read and absorb, the more I discover it’s only a drop in the ocean!! There is so much beauty and wisdom to experience. Thank you Randall. Have a great weekend. 🍀🙏🏻

  4. Lovely and inspiring story, Karen. Brought a smile to my face, and a relaxing joy to my heart. We sometimes find we are under the yoke of so many ideas and expectations, and the simple things elude us…


  5. Letting go makes space for new things and new people who are more on our wave lengths and needs. But if we have to let go before we are ready, this is what is painful. Again very often we don’t really let go fully without being pushed in some way. Life is such, we do have choices but we have to accept how life works and letting go is part and parcel of it. Thank you for the poem and your words. Many Blessings 🙂 ❤

    1. As a counsellor, I don’t often see clients let go before they are ready and in fact, the only suffering I see in them is that they won’t let go of the story and live in the reality and acceptance of ‘what is. You are right, it’s a choice and takes great courage to do. We cannot be in true presence without doing that. Thank you so much for your comments. 🙏🏻💕

      1. Yes what you are saying is true. On their own people cannot let go before they are ready. What I meant here was not regarding the clients and the counselor or the therapist. It’s when people have to let go of things, when they are taken away from them forcefully or unfairly. Sometimes it can be not man but natural disasters like floods ect, and Also when people leave due to break down of relationships when the other person is still not wanting to break off. As a counselor its obvious you viewed from that angle 🙂
        Thank you for answering back as that is how we can learn from each other and broaden our horizons 🙂 ❤

      2. So very true and I think it applies in every situation, and that is why a practice of presence and detachment is a daily practice for me over a lifetime, so if anything happens outside my control, which it does, my suffering isn’t in the unfairness, my suffering is in not accepting this moment as it is and my suffering is not understanding why this happened to me. I have found too that I’m never ready, but my practice keeps me prepared I guess. Hope this makes sense! 💚

      3. Yes it does. Why I wrote like that is, I lost a lot of things during separation, so many things even personal things like clothes, books were taken by the in laws !!! Even the two children were taken away for a outing and not brought back, and I could not even see them for some time. The things does not matter but even after 30 years, that gap of my younger son is still not filled up. Until recently I used to dream of my elder son as an adult and my younger son as a little child and always asking my elder son where is your brother !!! So I can understand your pain as I never ever think of that for any parent especially a mother. In my counselling notes it says suffering is needed for us to change. And when all else fails we turn to religion. I have always been religious, and now by letting go and, through prayers I have achieving certain things that money cannot buy. Much Love and Light ❤

      4. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. A difficult experience for you indeed. I agree with you, that as humans we seem to need suffering to change and heal. It has happened in my life too. I hope one day we can evolve without this belief. Many blessings to you for your courage and your wisdom. 💕

  6. So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.’

    Kahlil Gibran

    Yes! And as I told someone I love recently, the people you meet in here will be much kinder, than the ones you meet out there~

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