“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana” – (Bhagavad Gita)
This is a very famous shloka from Bhagavad Gita, a scripture which is of great importance in Hinduism. It states that you have control over the actions and not on the result. Therefore, you should never be attached to the results. It delivers a message which is relevant even five thousand years later.
Since childhood, we have been shown various colors of life by movies and stories. These paint multiple pictures of varied aspects of life: love, relations, and success. Based on these and other influences experienced, we start building up many expectations regarding the future. ‘Expectation’ is anticipating the most favorable outcome of our actions. We attach ourselves to our actions and their outcomes to the extent that we start being in denial about other possible outcomes. We forget that we perceive and analyze the situation based on our understanding. For the situations which are beyond our control, or, which involves somebody else, the outcome may be completely different.
Our expectations and attachments pave way for two emotions- fear and pain.
When we rely on one specific outcome, which is not completely under our control, it generates a sense of ‘fear’ in us – fear of expectations being broken. This sense of fear is more intense when we are not mentally prepared for the other possible outcomes. This means the more one is dependent on a specific outcome, the more intense is the fear generated. This fear eventually impairs our thought process and abilities of decision making.
Sometimes, this fear becomes so intense that to safeguard our interest, we start committing stupid mistakes and in some cases, become the reason for failure. When this happens, the emotion that follows is ‘pain’.
When the situation takes a different turn and the outcome of our actions change, it generates a sense of our heart being broken. This feeling is called pain. When this happens, we start blaming ourselves and the entire world around us. We start feeling that the world is not being fair to us and we did not receive the fruit of our hard work.
But if we take a step back and analyse the situation, we realise that we were always in a psychological state of denial. This blinded us towards other possibilities and aggravated our attachment towards one specific outcome. Based on this weak foundation we started planning our future course of action. But when the situation changed its course, the outcome also changed. Since we were not mentally prepared for such an event, we feel shocked, betrayed and cope up with the situation by playing the classic blame game with the world. This continues as long as we hold onto the state of being in denial. If since the beginning, we had been open to the existence of other possibilities, it would have been easy for us to accept the changes and failures.
It would be wrong to say that one should not have any expectations. Every action is performed with a motive to achieve an outcome. But one has to keep in mind that for situations that are beyond our control, the outcome may not always be the most favourable one. What we have in our hands is the action and not the result. We should focus on our actions but also should be mentally prepared for situations where our actions do not yield the desired results. This thought process makes us free-flowing and also strong enough to stand against all odds in life