Do you ever notice how often we put expectations we have for ourselves on others?
We feel we should do, act, or be a certain way, so we expect other people to do the same. And here’s the REALLY crazy part, we expect them to behave that way even when we are not behaving that way! (Double standard much?)
First of all, we can’t actually “expect” anyone to do ANYthing.
We can’t control other people, we can only control ourselves. An expectation is the same thing as having a “should” for someone. Such as:
-My husband “should” take out the garbage every week.
-My kids “should” be more grateful.
-People “should” use their turn signals.
Yes these things all logically seem to make sense and are without a doubt courteous actions, but if I learned ANYTHING from Byron Katie’s absolutely INGENIUS book Loving What Is, it’s that we simply cannot expect anyone to do anything…especially if our reason for expecting is because we feel like they “should.” Having these expectations and “should-ing” all over others is a recipe for major disappointment and suffering! We cannot control others, therefore we should not “expect” anything from them!
I know this, and yet I sadly “should” all over myself and others more often then I’d like to admit! A very real-life example for me occurs frequently between my husband and I. We both do not like to cook. We both do not like to do dishes (no dishwasher.) And we both love to eat out.
This is a problem when you are attempting to be both health conscious and budget conscious! Many times by the end of the week I will have hit my “guilt-threshold.” Meaning, I have eaten out or just “grabbed a quick bite” or a “quick cup of coffee” too many times for my comfortability level, and I start to impose my guilt and “should’s” on my husband.
He will want to grab brunch on the weekend (he loves going out for brunch), and I will start laying it on thick about how we’ve already spent too much money on food from out, we should eat at home to be healthier, and how “if only we were more organized and responsible we wouldn’t run out of food and have to eat out”, etc.
But how do you think this makes him feel? Exactly right. Somewhat attacked, confused, and uncomfortable with my imposed expectations. Then I start to feel even more guilty because I know I am “sneak-attacking” him with emotions that have been building up in me throughout the week and are finally bubbling over. Now we both feel upset. Ugh.
So how do we prevent this miserable feeling? A few ways:
1- Stop “should-ing” all over yourself and others. Why “should” you do one thing or another? Do you really feel that way or are these feelings you’ve imposed on yourself by comparing yourself to others?
2- When you have an expectation, it’s usually fueled and backed by emotion. Try to realize that and take the emotion OUT of it. Instead of feeling guilty or sad or frustrated about something that results in a “should”, ask yourself; “Do I need to feel guilty about this? What if I just looked at this situation in terms of facts instead of emotions? Are the emotions behind this making me feel positive or negative (if negative, are they really worth holding on to)?
3- If you decide you have a meaningful “should” or expectation for yourself (that is hopefully fueled by positive motivation), make sure you apply it ONLY to yourself. Do not force your standards on others…again, it only sets you up for frustration, disappointment, and misery!
Put these practices into place….and you can start living The Empowered Life! =)
Have you fallen into the "expectations" trap? Do you think you could implement these three steps to free yourself from guilt, misery, and disappointment? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!