If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed. ― Sylvia Plath
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 per cent 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 which stems 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 yours and other people’s lives.
So to say, 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 inside of you.
Which 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 comes 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 conceptualise everything. Each one of our thoughts is 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 empathise 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 at 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 you of every single thing in your life. Ultimately, it’s your life. How you want to live it, 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 at the party 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 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 as 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.