How Expectations Can F$%K Up Your Relationships

We all have expectations. Whether it’s expectations of families, partners, bosses, ourselves, how our waitstaff should behave, etc.

Any expectation you have can lead to disappointment. This is not saying that every person in your life will cause disappointment. It means that you need to be able to see people realistically and not expect more from them.

I’ll give the example of my mom. I had this expectation since I was young that I wanted my mom to be the type of mom who stayed home, baked cookies, and asked about my day. What I got was an independent, driven, strong woman who was in law school, clerked for the governor, and went to work for a big law firm.

If I had the knowledge as a 5, 10, 15 years old of saying “I may want this, but is that who she is?”, I probably wouldn’t have felt disappointed and uncared for.

As an adult, I can see where I held expectations of not only my mom, my older brother, of teachers, of friends, and all of them were unfair. Which led me to feel let down by them.

Do I think my mom did this because she didn’t love me, or that my brother thought I was his geeky younger sister and didn’t want me around, or that my teachers were out to get me? At the time, ABSOLUTELY.

As an adult, I realize my mom is my mom. My brother is my brother. That teacher taught the way they taught.

It’s not about having an expectation. It’s about accepting who that person is and being genuinely okay with that reality. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to understand it, but if you want a relationship with that person, the better you get to know who they are, the more you can release those unrealistic expectations, and the happier you’ll be.

The reality is, you don’t have to keep putting these unrealistic expectations on people. It’ll just bring more misery into your life because it means the people you surround yourself with will never live up to what you expect and they’ll never feel good enough. And, you will think you are misunderstood, unsupported, unloved, not treated in the way you want and end up with a huge chip on your shoulder.

Maybe you need to look at your friends/family/boss…they have shown you what they are capable of. Are you paying attention?

If I had the tools as a young girl and looked realistically at my mom, I would not have put those expectations on her.
As a grown-up, I realized no, my mom is her own person. But as a child, you don’t have that self-awareness. As an adult, my experience is the more you know someone and don’t throw your expectations on them, the better control you have over your own life. Not to mention you can create healthy relationships and are much happier and satisfied with your relationships.

You are not constantly disappointed or let down by these people because not everything is about you and what you expect and want.

The main thing: You need to ask yourself what is this person is really capable of? Have they ever shown me that they are helpful”, “emotionally available”, “like to go to the movies?”

Someone might want to go kayaking with me, but if they knew me they wouldn’t bother asking. Knowing me means knowing I do not like kayaking. You can either accept that and move on, or sit and wallow in your disappointment of me even though you have never seem me in a kayak or heard me mention that I want to kayak. I am obviously simplifying it. But I believe you understand.

We are not capable of being more than who we are.

Let’s go back to things we ask ourselves:

1. Has this person shown me that they are capable of the behavior I expect from them..emotion/attitude/action
2. If they haven’t, what makes me think that they are capable of it?
3. Is this, then, a realistic expectation to have of this person?
4. If no, then stop thinking they will do what you want because you want them to do it.

This one shift in your thinking can make a world of difference. Try it out. I would love to hear the results.

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