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You Can't Expect Expectations To Be Good For Your Relationship

Get rid of them.

01/02/2017 4:31 PM AEDT | Updated 05/02/2017 2:58 PM AEDT
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"How hard is it to put your phone away for 10 minutes?!"

Whether it's your relationship with a friend, partner, parent or work colleague, expectations can easily be the guillotine for relationships. Expectations are the reason our relationships suck.

No one is you and you can't control the way others think, feel or react. No one will act exactly as you do, and you may try, the sooner you accept that the way someone else acts, or reacts, is up to them, the happier you and your relationships will be.

When you base your feelings of happiness, worth, or confidence on the actions or reactions of other people, you're setting yourself up for many moments (or days, years even) of avoidable misery.

When someone does the unexpected and it disappoints you, I have come to realise that it may be because you had a belief about what they were supposed to do.

You may believe that your mother should have been proud when you got a huge promotion, and when she wasn't, you were sad. If, on the other hand, you consider that your mother can react however she wants, but that you can still believe you are great at what you do and deserving of your success, perhaps your hurt won't be so great.

You may believe that your brother should call you back immediately when you know he's struggling, but when he doesn't, you feel angry and guilty. If you stopped believing that his suffering is a reflection on you as a sibling and a friend, and started believing that you're doing the best you can and letting go of guilt, you could suffer less.

It's important to stay present with your thoughts, and to check yourself, to see if you're holding on to expectations of how other people should behave.

I'm not suggesting lowering your expectations of other people, or to never ask anything of anyone. It's not about settling -- it's about assessing each situation and making a choice. Either admitting that your expectations are unrealistic and that the other person is entitled to their response. Or, if you think your expectation is valid, you can have an open conversation, or move on from that person without letting their actions impact you.

You never know, they might be struggling themselves and that's why they haven't been the friend, parent, sibling or lover you expect them to be. It may even bring you closer to have an honest, rational chat and actually communicate how you feel.

My suggestion? Start constructing your own happiness and create self confidence based on something you do have power over... you. Your own thoughts and beliefs.

Recently when my Dad passed away, I placed huge expectations on how friends, family and loved ones should act and be there to support me. When I wasn't receiving the support that I expected, I got angry and took it personally. I turned cold, quiet and withdrawn for quite some time.

But eventually, I had an epiphany. Many of my negative feelings were entirely created by my expectations of how they should have behaved. I couldn't expect anyone to know how to react to death, I couldn't expect anyone to know what I needed from them when I wasn't communicating it, and I couldn't expect anyone to understand the grief I was feeling if they hadn't experienced the same.

Once I stood back and realised this, I saw many other examples.

If you expect other people to act exactly as you would like them to, you're playing a game you're guaranteed to lose.

I had expectations that my friends and family should reply to text messages immediately when I'd message about something exciting, or that I was personally proud of. When they didn't, I ended up spending huge amounts of time wondering if they even cared, and feeling pretty bad about myself. (Of course, they did eventually respond with lovely texts; it was just ridiculous that I placed expectation on anyone that it needed to be immediate. People live busy lives!)

If you expect other people to act exactly as you would like them to, you're playing a game you're guaranteed to lose. Instead, try being open to any and all reactions from others.

The bottom line is that you will never be happy if you're always expecting other people to provide joy for you with their actions or words or even love.

When you open your mind and heart with no preconceived notions of what others should be and do, you may well be a whole lot happier and, chances are, make the other person happier too!

Let go of your expectations and permit yourself to create your own happiness.

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