Don’t Set Expectations of Others and You Won’t Get Hurt

by Melody Jean

Don't Set Expectations and You Won't Get Hurt Contemporary SeekerA recent conversation with a friend sparked an old lesson I learned a long time ago. Never expect someone to be more than who they are at that moment.

A few key words in this sentence are expect and someone. Expect derives from the word expectation. Someone is another person other than you.

Expecting – It’s a Mind Twist

My dad always said when I was younger, if we don’t set expectations of someone then we won’t get hurt.

It took years for me to understand this. He wasn’t saying that I shouldn’t expect people to be “human beings” in that they treat me kind and don’t use me as a doormat.

That’s different, as these are boundaries that we set for ourselves. “Normal people,” if there is such a thing, hopefully have these attributes. That is, the basics of being cordial and pleasant to a certain degree.

If they do not, then no, we don’t just swallow it because we can’t ‘expect’ them to be so. What he meant are expectations on a different level.

Someone Else is Not Us

Just because we have a stable job, pay our bills on time, do the laundry, sweep, take out the trash, do the dishes, dust the vanities, drive the kids everywhere, have a college degree, and more; we can’t expect others to.

We might think that if one doesn’t do these things too, that he or she is just lazy, and doesn’t have it together. It may seem too as if they care little about us, where we live, and numerous other detrimental thoughts that creep-in our minds.

While there could be some truth to that, we also have to consider that the person we scrutinize is someone else. Here is the word ‘someone’ from my first point. You have to remember that this someone is not you nor a clone of you. They are someone else entirely, a whole different human. How tiring it can be trying to change someone else!

The Change Game

I am sure many have gone the route of trying to convince their significant other or roommate to clean more around the house, and help with chores. Or you’ve asked a coworker to pick-up more of the slack and to pitch-in to do their part, and to no avail; nothing changes.

You just “expect” someone else to do what you do at the level that you do it.

Now you may be thinking as you read this, is she nuts? Everyone should do their part!

It’s Not a Perfect World, I Say!

Well in a perfect world, yes. Yet who’s to say that which we think is someone’s part, he or she agrees with? My point?

We can’t expect people to do things because (1) we do it or (2) because if they don’t do it they don’t care.

We have to find a way to accept others for who they are and for what they do now. Not expect them to change because we ask them to.

We Are Set in Our Ways

This is particularly true as we grow older. Naturally as we progress in years we become more established in our ways.

With this in mind I’m not saying we have to just accept people as they are – stay friends with said person, in a connected intimate relationship, or continue seeking out collaborating on jobs at work, etc. We don’t have to do that.

What I’m suggesting is that we may be trying to change someone, and perhaps even unknowingly. If so, we can benefit from not continuing in that vein and instead accept them for who they are at this moment. If we don’t like what we see?

Adios Amigo!

Leave them behind. We can do that too. Especially if it’s someone who we’re intimately involved with – we can let them go and say, “adios amigo!”

It’s plain and simple really. But first we need to be able to recognize whether we’re indeed doing this or not.

Check Yourself

Next time, when it seems that you’re up against a wall with someone, that is always asking him or her to do something, and they aren’t responding? Check yourself.

Ask, “Self! Am I setting expectations based on what I want him or her to be and/or do?” If so, then that’s not fair to you, or them.

Let Go

It’s worth restating that I’m not suggesting we stay in relationships like this. I’m merely offering the opportunity for us to consider something different in that we examine the level to which we set expectations.

We have the power to move on from those who we aren’t compatible with. If we can’t love a person or accept them for who they are, at this very moment, it’s time for a break to allow them to be who they are and us to find someone (a friend, boyfriend/ girlfriend, boss, etc) who perhaps is more like who we want or deserve them to be.

Accepting that Diggity-Dog “As Is”

So we can either accept that diggity-dog in our life for what they can give, and want to give and do. Or we can go find another. I’ve shared this with any number of my friends who are miserable in relationships or other circumstances. And you know what?

Those that took this into consideration were able to make a change – something to ponder.

You might also enjoy, How to Let go of Someone You Love and I offer this to you as well. In the meantime, I owe special thanks to my friend who is going through this right now for her strength in sharing this with me, because now I share what I learned on my path with all of you.

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