“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.” – Bob Marley
It is reasonable to assume that we should stop expecting others to be who they are not. When you throw out expectations onto others, you immediately set yourself up for frustration or disappointment. The simple truth is that you will have much more peace and contentment in life if you stop expecting others to be something they are not or do something you think they should do. Even if you believe wholeheartedly that they ought to “be a certain way,” it’s best if you release the expectations altogether.
This is where all types of human relationships get into trouble. Whether it’s parents and children, friends, or intimate partners, expectations bring about all sorts of situations and emotions – especially unrealistic expectations. If you find yourself frustrated in any one of your relationships, it’s time to take a look at whether you live in a state of expectation of others or not.
Do away with expectation
We live in a society that lives and breathes expectations. We expect our kids to act in certain ways, our employers to treat us this way, our lovers to cater to us that way, and our parents to love us unconditionally. The problem is that no one can really be who we want them to be; they are uniquely themselves, they know who they are, and they are probably pretty good being themselves. They want to feel confident and comfortable being who they are and if they want to change, they want to change on their own terms- not yours.
It’s time to do away with expectations. This will help you to experience less anxiety, less stress, frustration, anger, depression, and other negative emotions. Of course you can expect things like respect from others, but if you base your mood on whether you get anything you expect you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Detach from outcomes
You are responsible for your mood and happiness level. Sure, it’s easier to live in bliss if everyone around you is behaving in ways that are pleasing to you, but the reality is that not everyone will act as you’d like. Your daughter might try smoking, your lover will say something to hurt your feelings, your mother might annoy you, and your boss might give the promotion to someone with less experience. Things don’t always go as you plan or as you would like; it’s just a fact of life.
If you can make a decision to detach from outcomes, you’ll be sure to live in bliss more often. I’m not implying that you stop caring about others. If your partner forgets to take the garbage out on garbage night AGAIN, you don’t need to allow his forgetfulness to ruin your mood for the evening. Yes, you expect him to remember and he should remember because it’s a fairly important task, but to allow his neglect of the task to disturb your emotional state or yell at him does no one any good. People sometimes forget and if you can ingrain into your thought life that “Whatever he or she does or doesn’t do is not my primary concern in life. I’m detached from outcomes and I take full responsibility for my own happiness,” you’ll be more content and peaceful.
It’s not easy
It was Maya Angelou that said, “People know themselves much better than you do, That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
I have an acquaintance in a relationship with someone who tends to expect perfection from her. Her partner gets so upset with her when she forgets something, doesn’t get the dishes spotless, leaves a light on, etc. She is just going about her life doing the best she can on any given day and because her partner expects so much from her, she tends to walk on egg shells and has been struggling with depression. Her partner expects perfection from her and expects her to be someone she is not. They both need to work through this issue or there will be much frustration and disappointment in the relationship. If not addressed, it will most likely fail.
It’s not easy to let go of expectations. It’s not easy to let others be who they are in all of their imperfections and carnality. It might not be easy, but it is possible. It’s the Buddhist philosophy that emphasises detaching from desires and outcomes. Doing so relieves suffering. What if you went about your day determined to allow happiness to flow in and through you NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE DID OR DIDN’T DO?
Could you do it? Could you smile and send kind thoughts to the sales assistant that takes an ungodly amount of time to check people out at the supermarket? Could you smile and take the garbage out yourself when your partner forgot, AGAIN? Would you sit down and have a heartfelt, loving conversation with your daughter when you find cigarettes in her room instead of screaming your head off at her? Could you whistle Dixie even when your spouse comes home in a grumpy mood for the third time this week?
I’ve known men and women that have the ability to sing songs of joy despite just about anything. They have always been an inspiration to me and I make it my aim to live the same way. I make it a priority to allow others to be where they are on their journey. I try very hard not to make judgements and rant and rave about how people ought to think or behave. It’s not always easy, but it is possible and it does become easier with practice.
It’s not all about you
Sometimes we tend to think the world should revolve around us, but the truth is that it’s not all about us and our expectations. People are at all sorts of levels and to walk in unconditional love is to allow people to freely be who they are. Life is a journey and each person is on a different path with different thoughts, feelings, experiences, spirituality, etc. It’s not for anyone to judge another, but to accept them and gently encourage and love them as possible
Ask yourself if you’ve been expecting things from others or expecting them to be someone they are not. Can you detach from expectations? Will you be responsible for your own feelings and mood regardless of what others say or do? I put the challenge out there for you and it is my hope that you’ll take it and run blissfully on your path on your wonderful journey.