Expectations are a natural part of living and relating.
There are two areas of expectations that affect our lives. One: When people do not meet our expectations, it provides us with the opportunity to learn from them so we can better meet the expectations of others. Two: We adjust our expectations higher or lower as we naturally mature.
1. An opportunity to meet others expectations.
Sometimes we have expectations of others to do things, or to be a certain way. But in reality, often we are also the ones who are not giving, doing, or acting a certain way. For example, are we expecting our children to come home on time, when we are the ones arriving 10-15 minutes late to pick them up from soccer practice? Or – do we want love and attention from our partner, but we are not truly loving them, or giving ourselves enough love and attention? It’s best to look in the mirror before we react with disappointment when others don’t meet our expectations. Noticing when others do not met our expectations provides us with an opportunity to notice if we are meeting the expectations or needs of others and of ourselves.
2. Adjusting our expectations.
Our expectations can be unrealistic or non-existent… or our expectations are appropriate, but we have expectations from the ‘wrong’ person or situation. (‘wrong’ is a person or the situation’s inability to meet our reasonable expectations, or the unwillingness of a person to meet them.)
When our expectations are too low (or non-existent), we may tolerate situations that most others would find intolerable. We may find we are in dull, unfulfilling jobs or relationships, or that we allow others to walk all over us. For instance, when we have low expectations, we may not even bother trying new things, or we give up on our goals and dreams easily because we don’t expectit will work out.
When our expectations are too high, we don’t tolerate anything but perfection. We create unrealistic expectations and demands, and if they aren’t fulfilled we may suddenly walk away from a job or drop a relationship. For instance, when we expect our partner to fill all our needs all the time, and they don’t, we may give up on the relationship altogether. Another example is when we expect to lose 20 pounds in a month when it took a year to put on the weight, and when it doesn’t come off fast enough, we give up healthy eating and exercise, and then we go back to expecting too little of ourselves.
When we expect too much from others and from ourselves we may use language (or we hear an inner voice) saying such things as, “I should…, you have to…, I got to..., you ought to…, I must…, why didn't you…” – all of which lead to feelings of not being good enough, which has the potential of creating feelings of inadequacy and lowering feelings of worth…which can then tilt the scale back to ‘expecting very little’.
The card Expectations came up so you can understand how your expectations are creating an opportunity for growth. See if you are filling the reasonable expectations of others, or ask yourself if your expectations need adjusting. As you grow, your expectations naturally adjust higher or lower. They will become realistic and healthy, and your expectations will appropriately match the situation or a person’s capacity. With appropriate expectations, you can create a life of joy, freedom, and true loving connections.
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