I’ve been really disappointed lately, but I realize that the disappointment stems from my unrealistic expectation of others.
“Expectation” is an innocuous word according to dictionary.com:
1.the act or the state of expecting
: to wait in expectation.
2.the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
; a thing looked forward to.
5.Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
It’s all very subjective, yet cleanly defined.
In reality, expectations are far more elusive and laden with emotional impact. When others “expect” something of us, it is based solely on their perspective, their longing, their wish for what or who they want you to be. Yet, seldom are these expectations stated or expressed and the person who projects his/her expectations on others is often disappointed. When you consider that it is utterly impossible to read another’s mind (where expectations reside) – it is no wonder that expectations go unmet!
I know someone…
who often is deeply disappointed in others because they expect a “basic level of behavior” (their words) based solely on their judgment of such. This person is a thoughtful, considerate, put others first type of person for whom I have a great deal of respect. It is difficult to watch this person continually lament over how others behave – all because the expectation of behavior is seldom met. She just doesn’t realize that others work from a different set of basic rules of life.
Realizing just how impossible it is for others to live up to this person’s expectations (“common, basic respect” in her words) made me realize just how utterly failure prone we make ourselves when we project our expectations on others – and how disappointed we continue to be.
In the words of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, “Agreement #2 – Never take anything personally…” When we project OUR expectations on others, we normally do not tell them what these expectations include, nor do we give them a chance to defend whatever actions offend/disappoint us.
As a result, we end up thinking “How could that person be so rude to me? (They probably never realized that they were rude) or “How could they not ask me how I AM doing? All we talked about was them…” (The others probably didn’t notice their apparent self-centeredness.)
The key to feeling happy around others is to have few expectations (if any!) of others, and let life flow! Instead of being disappointed that someone you were hoping would call didn’t – take matters into your own hands and call them when they don’t “deliver” to your expectations. Often there is a good explanation for their “lapse” – most notably that they didn’t have any idea that you expected them to act a particular way.
Keep expectations for yourself – and then try to live up to those, instead of imposing them on others.
I used to expect a lot from other people…
– courtesy, respect, love, reciprocity, – all of the valors I grew up to think were part of the adult world.
Today, I’ve relaxed and redefined most of my former expectations – my new definition of respect is one where people don’t DISrespect me. Love, I’ve learned is primarily conditional and never ever can be expected. I used to expect unconditional love from loved ones (especially family) which is simply non-existent. One cannot conjure up love from others – only for and by oneself.
Reciprocity, I now know is a bonus – you can be nice and giving for your part, but that doesn’t mean that others will necessarily react in kind. Others follow their own path, not yours – which may not even consider reciprocity as an action.
Courtesy (especially “common courtesy” such as opening doors for people, giving up one’s metro seat for elderly, etc.) has been redefined for the 21st Century (at least based on behaviors in Florida!) One person’s courtesy is another person’s great surprise – it is always a matter of subjectivity.
Expectations— only of yourself…
Today, I expect respect, courtesy, unconditional love, and reciprocity ONLY from myself. Anticipating that anyone else would bestow these same behaviors on me is no longer part of my outlook. Relying on my own resources to meet (and often exceed) my expectations has been wonderfully successful.
Maybe this would work for you too?
Have a great week!