I don’t think expectations are good or bad. But how we approach them will affect everything.
What are expectations? Google definition:
expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.
You have expectations of others.
They have expectations of you.
You have expectations of yourself.
Let’s talk about:
- why we worry about expectations
- why we sometimes feel victim to unmet expectations
- how to approach expectations in an empowering, advantageous way.
Other People’s Expectations of Us
What do we do to try to “get out of them”? What does that mean? If there’s an expectation I’m trying to “get out of” does that mean I am already “in it”?
If so, who put me in it? Do I have to be in it?
When we feel stuck in somebody else’s expectation of us, it’s either because
1) we’ve forgotten that we always have a choice
2) because we are worried about the fall out if we don’t make it happen. And we have made ourselves responsible for their reaction to our action or inaction.
Do you like feeling stuck?
Are you, in reality, stuck? Or is it all in your mind?
Even if you have committed to something, it is still your choice whether to do it or not, all the way up until you do or don’t do it.
The only person who decides their expectations of you is the individual who has those expectations. They don’t have to expect anything. Every expectation they have of you is a choice, whether they realize that or not.
Meeting Expectations Doesn’t Always Turn Out as Expected
Have you ever followed through on an expectation, thinking it will make this person so happy, then you do it and they barely even notice, or they’re even upset about it?
Have you ever not followed through on an expectation, thinking this person will be so upset, and they end up being fine with it, and even quite happy still?
Sometimes they have a completely different emotional response to the exact same expectation met in the exact same way on different days.
That’s because, the truth is, no matter what you do or don’t do, and no matter what expectations are in place, individuals are responsible for their own emotions/thinking/reactions/expectations.
Expectations of Others
Have you ever expected someone to be happy about you following through with their expectation? Then you follow through, and they didn’t react the way you expected. How do you show up when you are trying to make someone be happy about what you did? It isn’t always pretty, and we can unintentionally end up being quite manipulative.
In certain situations you may actually want to be upset about someone not meeting your expectation. But there is a difference between feeling victim to these feelings that “just come over me” and thinking You know what? I do choose to be upset about this right now.
Guess what! When you own it, you have power over it.
WARNING: when you tie your emotions to other people’s actions, you have set up an incentive for yourself to try and manipulate their behavior so that you can feel better.
Even if you don’t see yourself as a manipulative person, you may unintentionally fall into manipulative behavior if these thought patterns are in place in your mind.
What if you can feel however you want to feel regardless of what this other person’s actions are? Well, you can. And it is so much more empowering.
Explaining Your Way Out of Expectations
Do you ever feel like you have to explain yourself when saying no to someone’s expectation? I sometimes do.
We come up with excuses. Explanations. Why? Maybe we think, This will let them down easier.
What’s your best excuse? One that seems to win people’s approval every time.
“I didn’t sleep well.”
“I’m crazy busy!”
If we think we need excuses to get out of things, and there are things we want to get out of, then we create incentive to turn those excuses into reality.
Is there part of you wishing to be sick? Hoping you don’t sleep well?
Be careful what you wish for
Seriously, what you wish for from the universe is very important.
Sometimes I’ve noticed myself staying up late to ensure I don’t sleep well. Then I have an excuse ready to go to explain my way out of something.
I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I started looking at it.
For someone who has struggled sleeping in the past and who is trying to achieve regular, restful sleep, this kind of thinking can be a real hindrance.
Do I really think my sleep is going to be restful if there is part of me that really doesn’t want it to go well?
Just Say “No”
Isn’t it enough if I just simply don’t want to do something? Just because.
What if I can choose things without explaining myself? Whether I slept well or not. Whether I’m sick or not. Whether I’m “crazy busy” or not.
What if my only explanation was, That’s just what I wanted to do.
I think explaining yourself is a totally optional thing.
You might try to come up with scenarios and be like “Sure Danny, in most cases it is optional, but not with _________.” Fill in the blank. Your spouse. Your boss. Your mom. Your in-laws. Your toddler. The police.
“Do you realize how fast you were going?”
“Yep. 75 mph. 10 mpg over the speed limit.
“What’s the rush?”
“I just felt like speeding.”
The explanations almost never work with police officers anyway. Just from what I hear. I mean, from friends who have been pulled over. You didn’t think I meant from personal experience, did you 😉
Choose a Mantra That Works For You
I can say “no” to someone without explanation and be okay. Some of my favorites are, “I just prefer not to right now.” “That doesn’t work for me this time.”
I can love people and say no to them – simultaneously! I know! Crazy, right? Let them be responsible for how they react.
I can be sensitive to other people and also make decisions for myself, on my terms.
I always get to choose my every moment no matter what the expectations are.
I can honor my genuine wants without being selfish.
I can make my “yes’s” more genuine by giving myself permission to say “no.”
Expectations of Yourself
I love the idea of having expectations for myself. Why?
- It’s a way to give myself direction.
- I like to tie them in to my overall purpose.
- I like the growth that comes as I struggle to meet them.
Where we run into trouble sometimes is we think we need to meet the expectations we have of ourselves in order to feel:
- 100% lovable
The feelings we create for ourselves instead of these feel terrible and are not as helpful. Nobody likes being conditionally loved. So why do we do that do ourselves?
Don’t wait until you’ve met your expectations of yourself to allow more of these feelings in your life.
Access them now, in conjunction with striving to meet your expectations. They work so much better together.
If you get better at this for yourself, then it will help you to be less reactive to other people not meeting your expectations. Instead of taking it personally, we can let it be about them. It doesn’t have to mean anything about you.
Use expectations to your advantage
Looking again at the definition of “expectation.” What if you could expect that you will be porn-free for X amount of years.
How does this sound?
I have a strong belief that this will happen or be the case. And I will love and accept myself through the entire process.
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