Recently, I wrote an article about How Expectations Can F$%K Up Your Relationships.
If you have always had expectations of people and have been disappointed, how can you change that? Let’s dig a little deeper into the four changes that were mentioned in the original article.
Has this person shown you that they are capable of the behavior you expect from them? (emotion/attitude/action)
We are not all built the same. The more you get to know who that person is (pay attention), the more you’ll begin to understand what they are capable of. Just because a person doesn’t meet our expectations does NOT mean they are automatically bad or unloving or unsupportive, etc. What it DOES MEAN is…that is who they are. Period.
You may want them to be different, and that’s where we get into trouble with those expectations.
If they haven’t shown they are capable of living up to YOUR expectations, what makes me think that they can? Sounds logical? In the purest examples, just because I’m a woman does not mean I’m a gardener. I don’t want to dig in the dirt.
Some women (some men, too) are wonderful gardeners and more power to them. But, if I’ve never shown you, heard me talk about, act like, doing things to do with gardening, then it is unfair to expect that is part of who I am.
You may WANT me to love gardening. You may be a gardener yourself and want someone to garden with, but that will not be me. And, it’s not fair to be disappointed that I am not that when I have never shown you otherwise.
Placing your expectations of how you think someone should be will not miraculously change them into that model.
I’ve always thought of that phrase, “Why can’t he/she just….” In my practice, I hear this phrase a lot. The answer is always, “Because they’re not built that way.”
Is this a realistic expectation to have of this person?
No. This is not a realistic expectation.
Imagine New Year’s Eve. How many times throughout your adult life you have held New Year’s Eve to the highest of standards. Going out, planning a party, being with friends, whatever that night looks like. It’s going to be the best night ever. How many times has that happened?
I can tell you from me—the total of zero.
Does it help me to keep expecting NYE to be the be-all, end-all of nights? Or, does that actually hurt me? Because ultimately, I will be let down every single New Year’s Eve.
Once I started to say, “Yeah…we can be together on New Year’s Eve. Being more relaxed, no expectations, just genuinely enjoying the moment. THAT is when that night started becoming a whole lot of fun.
Releasing those expectations set me free. There was no more disappointment, no feelings of being let down, which is no different from putting your expectations onto somebody else.
Just because somebody doesn’t meet that expectation…it says nothing about how that person feels about you. It has nothing to do with you.
LET IT GO
Stop thinking they will do what you want because you want them to do it, be a certain way, or react in a way that matches your expectations.
Note: Expectations are different from standards.
You may have standards of friends/relationships/work environment/whatever. If those things don’t meet your criteria, then it is not the right thing for you.
Standards are a personal way of measuring how you want to be treated. I want to be treated with respect, seen as who I am or how I am. I want to be treated as an equal. If I’m not getting that, I walk away. I do not sit around expecting to change who they are.
Expectations are different. Because that is what WE want from someone else. Standards are what you demand for yourself. It is important not to get those two confused.
That person who is not good at helping when you are sick does not mean they do not care or are not worried. It means they do not know how to be a nursemaid or are not comfortable around sick people. Maybe they are a germaphobe. Stop taking it personally.
If you were paying attention to this person, you would know this. So, it is unfair to put your unrealistic expectations on a person who showed you who they were. It is your fault; you were not listening/paying attention.
So, the harsh words are over. Save yourself from the hurt and feeling let down. Meet people where they are and for who they are, just as you want someone to do for you.