When Our Expectations Aren’t Met

This happens to all of us. We have expectations of other people and they don’t live up to them. Sometimes the expectations can be as simple as a family member taking out the garbage. But sometimes the stakes are a little higher and the expectations a little bigger like revealing personal secrets or keeping a date. Whatever the expectation was, it went unmet and now there are hurt feelings and a problem to solve. But what’s the answer?

Society teaches us to expect things of others. It teaches us that we should trust others and that the trust should not be broken. Most of us take these rules seriously and we do our best to not break the trust of others and we try to meet their expectations.

This balancing act that we play out in our relationships breaks easily. It’s a pretty delicate thing. It doesn’t take much for one or the other to feel burdened or victimized by it, depending on what’s happening. Victimization becomes, “I don’t know why I bother. Nobody ever does what I ask anyway.”. Burdens become, “It’s up to me to do everything around here.”. This is unhealthy and quickly sends the relationship down a bad path leading to resentment, frustration and anger from one or both people.

If we get up out of it and take the 30 000 foot view as I like to call it, expectations are just a projection of ourselves. They are a projection of what we would do and how we would respond given a similar situation. This projection is not necessarily true of the other person though, and that’s what gets us into trouble. If we stop expecting things of others, what it really means is that we stop projecting what we would do on to other people. We allow others to just do their own thing their own way without worrying about whether or not we would do the same thing.

I posted the other day about the imbalance in my marriage and I used household chores as the example. If I go back and read the blog, my expectations have been hurt because I’m just projecting my own needs on to him and allowing myself to be victimized by it. It’s easy to do and completely human. The power is in the knowing. It’s only once we know that we can begin to frame things differently and respond differently to things when they happen.

So, yes I can call myself on my own B.S. and I would encourage you to do the same thing. Where are you projecting your actions onto others and how can you let that go? By the way, it’s totally okay if you can’t! This is all part of the human journey. We need to let ourselves off the hook. We’re never going to get this perfect. That’s not the point. The awareness and recognition allow us to begin making new choices, but that doesn’t mean for a second that we won’t fall back into old patterns regularly.

When expectations get broken, feelings get hurt and things are said, just take the time to reflect. Take the pause that is needed to sort out the emotions and the reaction. Make the effort to figure out where things went sideways and what can be done to correct that without requiring the other person to do anything differently.

People can and will step up to meet those expectations. That normally happens when we stop expecting. It’s not about giving up on people or putting up with anything, both of those are just more victimization. It’s more about releasing the control we like to have over everything that’s going on around us and just allowing things to unfold naturally. When we do that, when we release people from our grip, that’s when the magic tends to happen.

Sending love to all.


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