“Set the standard! Stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment, & respect when you don’t even show that to yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli
We, humans, thrive on beliefs. Expectations is a belief that certain things will happen in the near future. But the notoriety associated with expectations is a bit too overrated. Why? You ask.
Expectations are not always about things that disappoint us; they are also responsible for guiding our behaviour.
Take this example into consideration, you expect to wake up alive in the morning and go to work and this mere hypothesis makes you set an alarm for the morning. If you could consider the fact that death is uncertain and tonight might be your last night on earth, you would never set an alarm as you knew that you had a 50 percent chance of not waking up alive the next morning.
Now, you risking that 50-50 alive-dead probability is absolutely fine but if you expect to wake up rich and famous the next morning, you are no more in the realm of realistic expectations; dear friend, you have slipped into magical thinking. This is where things go erroneous.
Expectations that stem from rational thinking and cognitive schema formed by a careful perception of patterns has a positive influence on us but expectations which are based on our faulty judgments of circumstances and dysfunctional beliefs about ourselves and our environment is not particularly helpful.
If you know your potentials yet want others to reward you for something beyond your capacity, it will invariably lead to disappointments.
When issues start popping up in our interpersonal relationships, the first advice our close ones end up giving us is to diminish misplaced expectations – from the relationship or from our partner. Does this really help? I tell you, it does.
You can make slight changes to the expectations that you have from other people because that will greatly reduce frustrations and suffering in both your and other people’s lives.
If you are ambitious about preserving your mental health, you need to stay away from expecting too much from other people. Trust me, expecting from others will only end in disappointment. You better focus your mental energy on matters that truly matter – your inner self.
This means it’s high time you…
1. Stop expecting others to be able to stand in your shoes.
I say this because we ideally expect people to be able to put themselves in our mental frame to look at things from our level. We believe others to naturally function this way. But it’s easier said than done.
Most of the conflicts, bitterness, and resentment come in our personal interactions from the fact that we desperately want others to empathize with us while we fail to look at why they never can.
Also, ask yourself, can you always stand in other people’s shoes?
Agree or not, every one of us has a unique way to conceptualize everything. Each of our thoughts are discrete and for them to put themselves out of their self-oriented mode and jump into the shoes of others is a bit too much to expect. Just take this for granted that most of them will be too self-absorbed to be able to truly and completely empathize with you.
This brings me to the second point.
2. Stop expecting others to agree with you.
Always remember, if you fail in life the faces that you see smiling with you now will suddenly disappear. So, stop leaving up to the expectations and standards of others. This way, you end up bending yourself beyond your capacity just to win their approval and in the end, these very people will never ever live up to your expectations.
The truth is, it is not possible to agree with others all the time.
A person’s mindset, concepts, and ideas are dynamic and consistently undergo changes throughout their life. Some of us have conflicting ideas within ourselves and here you are, wishing them to agree with you, a separate individual with a different mindset?
The more you accept yourself and approve yourself of every decision you have taken in life and be a positive boost for yourself, you will stop expecting others to agree and approve of you of every single thing in your life. Ultimately, it’s your life. How you want to live, should be your call.
3. Stop expecting others to read your mind.
Expecting others to know what might be going on in your mind is a disastrous recipe for miscommunication!
If you stay silent and expect the other person to telepathically understand what you are thinking, you are simply over judging human capacity. Ask yourself, would your partner ever understand you, if you remain grumpy throughout the day, misbehave with him/her, without actually telling him/her what’s wrong?
To add to this, you would probably expect your partner to automatically understand that it was the way he/she behaved with you that caused you to have a bad mood.
The good news is, you can make things simple by speaking up coherently with the other person. You have been gifted with the ability to speak, so you can communicate properly with your fellow friends and foster understanding.
4. Stop expecting others to sacrifice for you.
The act of sacrificing itself is selfless, where you consider other people’s needs, wishes and desires before your own. It comes organically and loses its charm once forced. Is it not usual for people to be concerned about their own preferences before they think of others’ wishes?
It is also extremely inconsiderate and selfish on a person’s part to expect others to give up on things just for them. This might come off as rude, but it is a fact.
Would you give up your favorite things to others in exchange for nothing at all?
If you yourself can’t, you should not expect others to do so too. Most often we take certain sacrifices of other people for granted because we prefer to believe we are entitled to their sacrifices. No. No one is bound to sacrifice for you, but if anyone does, respect that.
5. Stop expecting others to adore you.
In a world where everyone is trying to fit in, the most difficult battle is the battle we fight to love who we are.
There will be times when you will feel extremely worthless, useless, and unwanted to a few people while others will absolutely love you for who you are. Remember? If you do not have people who detest you, you are not doing life right.
Trying to control the preferences of others is sheer foolishness. One good thing you can do is shift your attention from this fault-finding, criticizing people to people who genuinely value the person that you are.
If there’s a dearth of people who love your raw self, know that you have an option to love yourself. Look into the mirror and remind yourself “I deserve self-love, self-care, and compassion. I absolutely freaking love the person I am.”
6. Stop expecting others to comply with you.
Everyone has their own boundaries and when you ask others to comply to you unnecessarily, know that you will surely disappoint yourself.
People set their own personal boundaries keeping in mind what they can entertain and tolerate and what they cannot. Hence it’s your responsibility to respect that. Suppose you ask someone to do something for you and they do not comply. It would break your heart, right?
But why would it? She/he has got all the rights to say ‘no’ to your requests. Don’t make your heart bleed on things which are not in your control.
7. Stop expecting others to be okay.
It is good to want people to be happy, content, and mentally healthy but these do not give you the right to force them to always stay positive instead of trying to understand that they might as well be fighting their own battles. Being able to accept oneself as we embrace our strengths, as well as our weaknesses, is important. Compassion towards one another will promote much-needed love and kindness around us. Being able to honestly open up to someone is the best feeling in the world, where you can look into the eyes of someone and say “I am fighting a battle within, nobody knows about” and listening to them can reply “Me too” and be there for each other
Because accepting your existing darkness is better than being lost in false positivity. It’s okay to not be OKAY all the time.
8. Stop expecting others to abruptly change.
If your partner or someone close to you needs one of their behaviors to change, don’t expect it to vanish overnight. You need to exercise patience and honesty with them before you want them to change.
Suppose you want your partner to give up on smoking then you need to honestly lay the cards on the table. Discuss and agree on things that can be changed for both partner’s well-being. Appreciate every small achievement of your partner leading to the change.
A person will only change when they realise that every small step they are taking towards the change is being positively reinforced.
On most parts, you should not try to change another individual, especially against their wish. If you can, it’s a good idea to accept them for who they are instead of complaining about what they could have been. If you provide them unconditional acceptance, the change will gradually but surely come to be.
Not everything will go according to plan. That’s what life is about – uncertainty. But to make the best out of the simplest moments in life, you have to stop overthinking about what could have been and live what is happening instead.