An expectation is a belief that something in the future is going to occur in a particular way. There can be good expectations which can be like ‘putting it out there’ that you are going to get a raise or a promotion, and then there can be the expectations that limit your opportunities and cause issues in relationships. Let’s talk about those kind of expectations.
You can have expectations of yourself. These self expectations aren’t a problem if they are realistic, but often they aren’t. I used to have the expectation of myself as a young adult that my past would not effect my future. Based on my past, this was unrealistic to expect and consequently I failed regularly. These unrealistic expectations are designed to set set yourself up for failure.
Then there are the expectations of others. This is where you are guaranteed to be disappointed because you are expecting another human being to behave in a certain way. Unless you are God, and last time I checked I definitely wasn’t, you have no control over other people. So when you have any type of expectation of someone else, you are also setting yourself up for failure.
The worst kinds of expectations of others are the silent ones. Where you have an expectation, but you don’t tell the other person what it is you expect of them. This is when you are expecting them to be, what I call, Jedi mind readers. For example, you may be upset about something and you expect your man to know what it is, without telling him. You might get angry with him when he doesn’t work it out and say, “If you loved me you would know.” What you are really doing is setting him up for failure.
So why do we have expectations? Because they validate our beliefs. Your fear never wants you to be wrong and it uses expectations to do this. By having unrealistic expectations of yourself you are validating a deep set belief that you are a failure, or that you are unlovable, or whatever your belief might be. Having expectations of others is validating a belief that they don’t love you, or that you don’t deserve good things to happen to you etc.
What’s the solution? The first step is always the realisation of how expectations work. Now that you know, you can become more aware of when you are setting yourself, or others up for failure. When it comes to yourself, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that are realistic and measurable is much better for your self-esteem than expectations.
For expectations of others I highly recommend communication. If you want someone to do something for your or behave a particular way, then tell them. Or if you are upset about something, let them know what it is. Always explain what you expect of other people and give them a fair opportunity to fulfil that. If they don’t, only then do you have the right to get mad at them if they don’t do it.
By understanding expectations and doing your best to avoid them you will have more of your needs met, your self-esteem will sour and you will feel more in control of your life. Best of all, you wont be setting yourself or those you care about, up for failure any more and that creates better relationships all round.