HAVING FEWER EXTERNAL EXPECTATIONS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER
External expectations can have a huge impact on your happiness.
Have you ever felt resentment towards a friend who hasn’t returned a dinner invite after you’ve hosted them for the last three catch-ups? Or have you ever dressed up and felt really, really great, just to have your partner say nothing? Or given really great advice to a friend, just to have them ignore you and carry on the path they were on? The trouble with these situations is that your expectations of how people and situations should be are causing you negative emotions and are getting in the way of you feeling great.
Expectations are a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. Not hoping or dreaming for something, but anticipating an outcome. When expectations aren’t met, especially when they involve other people, it’s an absolute killer. The expectations breed resentment and frustration and these ultimately impact your feelings. The only person suffering is you.
So which expectations do the most damage?
Wanting People to Like You
There is no use wanting people to like you. As the saying goes, you may be the greatest peach in the world, but some people simply don’t like peaches. Not everyone has to like you. It doesn’t mean you’ll be rude or unkind to them, but don’t spend your energy trying and expecting everyone to like you.
Wanting People to Change or Follow Your Suggestions
This expectation can cause much frustration and even resentment. Unless a choice impacts you directly, then it’s none of your business. If people were going to change then they already would have changed and for the most part, how people live their lives has nothing to do with you.
Let go of them, let go of the expectations. Give you advice freely and let people live their lives.
Wanting People to Know How You’re Feeling
This one is common in relationships. No one is a mind reader and you can’t expect people to know how you’re feeling. Use your words; don’t expect anyone to know your feelings.
Wanting People to Treat You Exactly How You Treat Them
This expectation so often is not met. The irony of this is that a lot of the time people are mirroring the way they see you treat yourself and then this is how they treat you.
So the next time you question why someone is treating you in a particular way, hold that mirror up to yourself and question whether you’re treating them better than you treat yourself. This can be powerful to acknowledge and change.
BENEFITS OF HAVING FEWER EXPECTATIONS
There are enormous benefits to having fewer expectations, especially when it comes to the people around you. Fewer expectations will improve your relationships with close family and friends and most importantly, with yourself. Other benefits include:
Living More in the Present
Fewer expectations will mean that you’ll no longer be perpetually wondering about what’s going to happen in the future. You’ll engage more with the here and now and live more in the present. You’ll also probably enjoy yourself more because you won’t always be expecting certain outcomes.
You Get Nice Surprises!
If you spend your time getting all dressed up and are complimented without the expectations of praise, it’s a lovely surprise and will probably make you feel better than flattery you expected.
Similarly, if you have lunch with a friend and they offer to pay, it could be a lovely surprise. If you’re expecting them to buy you lunch because you paid the last time you went out, it ruins the potential for a nice moment.
No More Resentment or Frustration
Resentment is a poison that eats away at you and it’s easily created by unmet expectations. Constantly expecting people to behave in a certain way can cause resentment if they don’t fully meet your expectations. It can damage your relationships and ultimately make you feel bad.
Expecting people to change, behave in certain ways or even follow your advice can be frustrating. Changing your expectations means less frustration and won’t lead to resentment. It’s that simple!
A Sense of Peace
Fewer expectations protects you from a lot of negative emotions. In addition to resentment and frustration, you’ll no longer feel disappointed in people who don’t meet your expectations. This comes with a sense of peace, because you can freely support those that you care about without feeling negatively about whether they’re delivering what you expect.
Additionally, you’ll come from a peaceful place of knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around you. When we expect something of people or situations, you’re assuming that you should be at the center of their universe, because they should be doing the things you think, say or act, according to the rules you’ve set. You’re assuming your opinion is correct and should matter the most to them.
Letting go of all of this will give you a sense of peace. Your relationships will improve and you’ll enjoy moments more because there’s no pre-conceived pressure on them.
So, have a look at your life and ask yourself what you’re expecting from people and situations. Ask yourself what negative emotions stem from unmet expectations and especially examine closely how you’re being treated and whether that results from how you treat yourself. Ask, examine and then do the work to undo and reduce those expectations.
Remember Internal Expectations are great to have, the standards you set for yourself are needed to help you achieve what you want in life. So please – don’t lower those!