Expectations are like a double-edged sword – some are absolutely appropriate, even helpful, some are out of date and some are positively harmful.
As clients begin working with me and begin to learn to know themselves better they start to notice their expectations – the ones that work well for them and the ones that don’t.
They not only come to see how they expect to be treated and feel unable to do anything about it but they also discover that they have expectations about how they ‘should’ be, how others ‘should’ be, even how life itself ‘should’ be.
Here are some questions for you:
- Do you beat yourself up when you fall short of your own expectations of how you ‘should’ be?
- When others fail to meet your expectations, do you blame them and feel resentful and frustrated?
- When life sends you challenges that are both unexpected and unwanted do you feel helpless and angry?
How do you get out of this vicious circle? Here are some suggestions:
Start by regarding unmet expectations as information. For a while you may continue to feel angry and upset but now you will also have information which will give you the opportunity to do something about the situation. This means you’re no longer helpless.
Here’s an example:
Thea’s expectations about how she wanted to be treated were frequently disappointed. Over time she realised that people kept crossing the line because her expectations were rather woolly. Once she herself was clear, she was able to start making it clear to others that their way didn’t work for her – an education process; not a shouting match.
When she let someone get away with thoughtless behaviour without standing up for herself, she was self critical and self judgmental, a clear invitation to others to do the same.
When life sent her challenges she began to accept them instead of resisting and struggling against them, especially since her struggles and resistances made no difference other than to her blood pressure.
Eventually, as she gradually learned to trust herself, she began to see more opportunities, options and possibilities than when she felt fearful and angry, thus realising that the expectations she’d had about her being unable to change anything were wrong, and she replaced them with positive expectations that actively empowered her.
There are plenty of people who believe that ‘there must be another way!’ And there is.
Does this chime with you? If so, please share.
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