An expectation …
is what you bring into the situation that is based on old experiences.
It is coming from your mind.
It’s what you project onto others or the situation thus limiting the possibilities you can experience. You’re putting people and circumstances into boxes. Unfortunately, those boxes often have negative labels. It’s what we focus on that catches our attention. It doesn’t mean everything will happen as expected, but you are very likely to interpret everything you experience according to your expectation.
An example: you are a teacher and the next class you are teaching is the ‘difficult’ one. The students are noisy and don’t pay attention to what you’re saying. If you have this unconscious or conscious expectation, it may happen that you prepare already for an unpleasant hour. You breathe more shallow, become a bit tense and are on the lookout for the first sign of trouble.
An intention …
is also what you bring into a situation. It is, however, something that you add to the situation in an enriching way.
It is a holistic, embodied state.
It is a state, atmosphere or wish for the situation and you align your thinking, feeling and physical being to your intention. At the same time, you are aware that you are only one element in the situation and that you don’t know what will happen. All you can do is focus your attention and awareness on what you’d like to bring into the situation for it be a good experience.
Example: You are a teacher and you want to have a sense of lightness and community when working with your ‘difficult’ class. You breathe and open your chest. You wake up a mood in yourself that makes you feel sparkly and joyful. With this intention – and it’s a very physical thing, not just an idea or a wish – you enter the classroom. And then you see how it plays out.
Also, expectations are formed habitually and happen in your default, autopilot mode. An intention is something you consciously choose. Setting an intention and embodying it is an act of liberation.
In short, you can say that expectations narrow your experience and those of others. Having an intention opens up new possibilities for a situation to develop – for you and everyone involved.
You always have a choice.