- Nancy Urbach
Do you constantly feel subjected to others’ expectations?
Have you been on the receiving end of others’ expectations? Didn’t you get the memo that you should behave a certain way? A situation arose and then suddenly people are shocked that you acted differently from what they thought you would. Then suddenly, you’re the “bad person” because they had some pre-notion of how you should have responded. This happens way more often than you think in relationships of all kinds. So, how do you address it if you are setting the expectations or are on the receiving end of them?
First, examine the motives. This applies to you, whether you are receiving the expectations or if you are the one placing them on somebody else. Why? What end result are you or they trying to achieve? Take a minute to really think about it. What does this disappointment or desired outcome going to achieve in the larger picture? Once you can decipher the intentions, you can choose to catch yourself or talk to them before any bad habits start.
“Even with the best of intentions, someone else’s expectation of you will be based not on who you are, but on that person’s own experience, opinions, pain, disappointments, and moral values. In other words, those expectations aren’t really about you—they’re about the other person.” Manhattan Mental Health Counseling
Do you see any bad habits or patterns that is connected to the expectations? One habit that runs rampant is projecting feelings and giving them more importance than the relationship. It’s like giving an excuse for the bad behavior or asking for special consideration because of these feelings. For example, “I am having a bad day because work was stressful, so I can treat you anyway I want and expect you to be nice to me.” This behavior is incredibly selfish and is an “unsaid statement” that you find your feelings more important than this person. You want life your way, but you cannot control people to fix the situation for you.
“Expecting life to always turn out the way you want is guaranteed to lead to disappointment because life will not always turn out the way you want it to. And when those unfulfilled expectations involve the failure of other people to behave the way you expect them to, the disappointment also involves resentment. Why is it that we don't get upset when a cup of coffee does not make itself, but we might get upset if someone else does not make us a cup of coffee? Where do we get the sense of power to think that merely expecting others to behave the way we want them to will make them behave that way? And what entitles us to get angry at other people when they fail to meet our expectations?” John A. Johnson Ph.D.
Set boundaries and have the conversation when you see these situations come up. Do not wait, because it gives the other person the permission for this bad behavior to continue. Sit and talk with this person calmly about these expectations and acknowledge that it may be hard for them to accept your reaction; however you know the importance of being true to yourself and in this moment will stick to your response. If they value the relationship, then they would not want you to forsake yourself just for their happiness. If you find out that you are the one setting the expectations, makeamends. Inform them you recently noticed this bad habit and would appreciate them being genuine to themselves when they respond; Rather than responding with what they think you want to hear.
Living life for others’ expectations or having them live for yours, is no way to enjoy life. Learning to accept others and express yourself as an individual will lead to a more authentic life.