When we throw out expectations onto others, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
We experience more peace and contentment when we stop expecting others to be who they’re not.
Even if we believe they should “be a certain way,” it’s best to release the expectations altogether.
This is where relationships get into trouble. Whether parents and children, friends, or intimate partners, expectations bring about a variety of unwanted emotions — particularly unrealistic expectations.
When we’re frustrated in a relationship, it’s time to take a look at whether we’re living in a state of expectation of others.
Do Away With Expectation
“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” ― Sylvia Plath
Society lives and breathes expectations. There is an expectation on children to act in certain ways, employers to treat staff in a particular manner, relationships to cater to people’s needs, and parents to love their children unreservedly.
The problem is, no one can be who we want them to be. They are uniquely themselves and know who they are. They are good being themselves. They want to be confident and comfortable being who they are and if they want to change, they will change on their own terms — not ours.
It’s time to do away with expectations. This will allow us to experience less anxiety, less stress, frustration, anger, depression, and other negative emotions. We can expect things like respect from others, but if we base how we feel on whether we get what we expect, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
Detach From Outcomes
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope
We are responsible for our moods and happiness. Sure, it’s easier to live in bliss if everyone around us is behaving in ways pleasing to us, but not everyone will act as we like. Things don’t always go as we plan — it’s just a fact of life.
If we can detach from outcomes, we can live peacefully more often. I’m not implying we stop caring about others. People sometimes forget and if we can ingrain into our thoughts that: “Whatever he or she does or doesn’t do is not our primary concern. I’m detached from outcomes and take full responsibility for my happiness”, we will be more content and peaceful.
It’s Not Easy
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” ― Bruce Lee
It was the late American poet Maya Angelou who said: “People know themselves much better than you do, That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
For example, I know of someone in a relationship who expects perfection from their partner. They get upset with their partner when she forgets something, doesn’t get the dishes spotless, leaves a light on, etc. She goes about her life doing the best she can on any day and because her partner expects so much from her, she walks on egg shells and has been struggling with depression.
Her partner expects perfection from her and expects her to be someone she is not. They both need to work through this issue or there will be frustration and disappointment in the relationship. If not addressed, it will most likely fail.
It’s not easy to let go of expectations. It’s not easy to let others be who they are with their imperfections and idiosyncrasies. It might not be easy, but it is possible.
It’s the Buddhist philosophy that emphasises detaching from desires and outcomes. Doing so relieves suffering. What if we went about our day determined to allow happiness to flow through us no matter what anyone else did or didn’t do?
I wonder if we could do it? Could we smile and send kind thoughts to the sales assistant that takes an unreasonable amount of time to check people out at the supermarket? Could we smile and take the garbage out when our partners forgets, again?
Would you have a heartfelt, loving conversation with your teenage son or daughter when you find cigarettes in their room instead of yelling at the top of your lungs? Could you not engage in a fight even when your partner comes home in a grumpy mood for the third time this week?
I’ve known men and women that are happy despite what takes place. They have always been an inspiration and we must make it our aim to live the same way.
We must make it a priority to allow others to be where they are on their journey. We must try hard not to make judgements how people ought to think or behave. It’s not always easy, but it is possible and it becomes easier with practice.
It’s Not Just About Me
“Set the standard! Stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment, & respect when you don’t even show that to yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli
Sometimes we think the world should revolve around us, but it’s not all about us and our expectations. People are at different levels of awareness and to walk in unconditional love is to allow people to be who they are.
Life is a journey, and each person is on a different path with different thoughts, feelings, experiences, spirituality, etc. It’s not for anyone to judge another, but to accept them and encourage and love them as much as possible.
So, ask yourself if you’ve been expecting things from others or expecting them to be someone they are not.
Can you detach from expectations?
Will you manage your own feelings and moods regardless of what others say or do?
I put the challenge out there and it is my hope you will take it and run blissfully on your path towards a wonderful journey.