Expectations come in at least two flavors. The first flavor is a reasonable expectation as to what might happen in the course of our day-to-day life. For example, if I plant a garden, I will have the reasonable expectation that, barring bad weather or unforeseen damage by pests, in due time I will have the fruits of my labor in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. If I place an order for something at Amazon, I will have the reasonable expectation that, in due time, a package will arrive at my door. If I work for wages, I will have the reasonable expectation that on payday I will have money.
However, there is one sort of expectation that is not only much less reasonable, but also represents a barrier to its own fulfillment. That is the expectation that comes when I imagine what state of mind would be required for me to be at home in my own life, without regard to external forces—what psychological elements would have to go, and what psychological elements would have to be acquired and kept for me to be at peace.
When the environment of fear and discontent was present in me, my entire mind, with all its psychological mechanisms, was completely fixated on the unconscious assumption that I was endangered by my own life. My mind was taken by the expectant waiting for the desired states to appear and the despised states to depart since, by then, I fully understood what was needed. That expectant watching and waiting did nothing but prevent me from attending effectively to the reality of my own life as it was unfolding.
This is one of the primary ways in which the fear of life operates to protect us from any possibility of direct engagement with life. The solution to this habit of trying to define what must go and what must stay in the experience of life is to first bring an end to that fearful environment with the act of looking at yourself, and then to train your mind with the self-directed attention exercise so it becomes more effective and useful in deciding what it needs to attend to and what it can ignore.
Once you develop some control over your attention, you will be able to decline to give attention to those harmful thoughts. Declining to attend to such things as expectations and assumptions about what must happen if you are to be satisfied and at peace in your life will starve them of their energy and hasten their departure.
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