There’s no greater source of suffering than expecting others to do and act as we would. This is a mistake that many people fall into, and whether we want it to or not, it affects our emotional balance.
It’s fair to say that we all set expectations for the people we love most, and we do so because it offers us a sense of security.
“I know that my partner will support me because I would do the same for him.”
Expecting, anticipating and hoping for the other person to do as we would do is a way of “controlling our world” and feeling secure about certain things.
However, things don’t always happen like we want them to. Clearly we all need a certain amount of security in our lives. If we didn’t have some sense of security, we wouldn’t know what to rely on and we’d suffer as a result.
But sometimes we take this thinking to the extreme: it’s not right to think that the rest of the world should act in accordance with our values.
Today we’d like you to reflect on that a little.
The power of setting expectations
Parents expect their children to behave like they would. Friends will usually wait for us to back them up in every situation and for every problem they face. A husband expects his wife to always meet his expectations.
We’re sure that you’ve encountered similar situations in your life. These expectations are really dangerous and can deeply damage the relationship and your self-esteem. It’s just not right.
Also read: 7 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People
Let’s take a closer look.
If you don’t act according to my expectations, I’ll be disappointed
If we don’t immediately offer our support, we’re labeled as “fake or traitorous”. It’s quite likely that their goals are inconsistent with your values, or that you simply can’t offer your support at that time due to personal problems.
- Those who are unable to empathize with other people to understand their unique perspectives and the right to think differently do not understand how positive relationships, based on reciprocity and respect, work.
Nobody is under the obligation to act according to the expectations of others. In doing so, we turn away from our true selves, leaving our self-esteem vulnerable.
The need to control all aspects of our lives
There are some people that just cannot accept uncertainty, not knowing what’s going to happen, and the outside actions and reactions over which they have no control.
Also read: 10 Things Healthy Couples Do Together
How can I accept that one of our children just told us that they don’t plan to go to college like we’d always dreamed?
How am I supposed to take it when a friend tells me that they would prefer to go on vacation with their other friends from work over us?
- People who are unable to tolerate it when other people don’t act according to their expectations suffer from a high level of frustration and disappointment that really damages their self-esteem.
- In reality, it’s enough to just be empathetic, and above all, to stop expecting others to act according to your expectations.
Set expectations for yourself, not others
Rights and obligations
When you no longer set expectations on other peoples’ behavior, you can live more freely and with more energy to focus on what is really important: expecting the most out of yourself.
- You have the right to expect others to respect you.
- You have the right to be loved, but not to control the lives of your loved ones or let others control you.
- You have the right to expect reciprocity, but not to expect others to agree with all your ideas, choices or values.
- You have the right to fight for your dreams and to allow others to pursue their own, even though they may be very different from the ones you have for yourself.
You should read: What Must Be, Will Be, In Its Own Time and Moment
- You have the obligation to care for yourself, to nurture your self-esteem and to avoid disappointing yourself because the world doesn’t react like you would.
- You have the obligation to be “proactive” in creating your own happiness by avoiding depending on others 100%. Accept the negatives and assume that occasionally you’ll be disappointed.
- Remember that you too may disappoint others and that doesn’t make you a better or worse person. We’re all just trying to find own version of happiness, but we need to respect the rights of our neighbors to find theirs.
In conclusion, we need to understand that not only is the world chaotic, but so are the people that inhabit it. Expecting other people to always act 100% in accordance with our own expectations is a huge source of stress and suffering.
It’s not worth it.