Lowering our expectations. Have you heard the saying, “expect less, get more” before? I'm sure you have and maybe brushed it off as I did for, well let's be real my whole life. I never could really understand the concept of it until a few years ago when I was doing some inner healing work with a woman. It doesn't pertain to everything. For example, if I’m going for a job interview I’m going expecting to get the job but I don’t crumble if it doesn’t happen. I believe I have to go with confidence into these types of situations but in everyday life, with people, it is a different story.
I hear so often from people the expectations they have of other people and the sad part is, we can have them but it doesn’t mean people are listening or going to adhere to them. What I have learned is to lower my expectations I have on people and the end result is less frustration and anger when I don’t get what I want. The truth is when we are selfish by nature and want things our way and when they are not we get mad. Then we say, “oh if they loved me or respected me’ blah, blah, blah.
One expectation I hear a lot about is demanding to be treated with respect. The problem with this is we can’t control other people or how they act or talk. I taught my children to treat people with respect, even if they didn’t respect them, and I stand by that and do my best at being an example to them. I can’t demand people act the same way. All I can do is kindly reply my request in a situation and hope for the best.
What Did I Expect?When a person is continually rude and disrespectful to me and I keep going back for more who’s fault is it? If you keep going back and nothing changes then stop going or stop complaining. Pick one and run with it. If I expect my husband to pick up his socks and he never does it why am I still expecting it? It’s pretty obvious he doesn’t care about where he leaves them and if it bothers me that much then I pick them up. I haven’t quite mastered the no grumbling while I do it but I’m getting better.
There are so many things we expect from people. We get angry when the expectation is not met and only we can change that. Our parents are expected to protect us and when they don’t we stay angry for years. We try to figure out what we did wrong. We expect people to be nice to us or pay attention to us. When they don’t we think they don’t love us. We expect people to tell us they're sorry when they hurt us. When they don’t we are unwilling to forgive them. We allow the expectations we set for people to define how we view ourselves.
If my parents didn’t protect me I must not have value, there must be something wrong with me. Or my husband isn’t nice to me I must not be lovable, nobody will ever love me. If my friend won’t apologize to me she must not like me, I must not be a good person. The unmet expectation becomes a lie, a stronghold, that we cling to as our identity and it is not the truth.
Recently I spoke with a woman, (I’ll call her Mary) and she was going to be seeing her dad after many years and was not sure how it was going to go. She was holding some feelings towards him from past hurts that had not been resolved. Through a course of events, she was taking care of a sister from her dad's new family. He was coming to visit and pick up this sister and Mary was a bit nervous.
I saw her a week or so later and asked if her dad had come and she said yes. It was going well and she stated, “it’s not what I expected”. What she perceived and expected turned out to be different from what happened. An expected uncomfortable meeting turned out to be the beginning of healing with Mary and her dad. The process of forgiving and moving forward started to take place. How many times do we avoid something because of false expectations of what's to come?
When we can learn to expect less from people we begin to get so much more. I’m really working hard at learning to see people as broken vessels. The way God sees us. When I look at my parents as people and not my parents I can see the brokenness in their lives. I look at my husband as a brother in Christ, and I can see that he may be just as messed up as me. When my friend won’t come to me I wonder what I might have done to hurt her and maybe I can reach out first.
Lowering my expectations is about swallowing my pride and letting go of the need to have it my way. It’s about being love, in an un-lovable situation. If we know who we are the actions and words of others can’t touch us. Is it easy all the time, no it is not? Especially when it comes from the ones closest to us. I’ve heard it said many times that people can only hurt us with words and actions if we believe what they are saying. There is so much truth to that statement. If someone tells me I’m stupid it only hurts if I believe I’m stupid. Expectations of others is a nice way of saying I selfishly want it to go my way.
People have a right to their opinions but it doesn’t make it the truth. It is only true if you believe their opinion. They are in control of their own mouths and behavior, not us. When I accept that I can’t control others my life gets easier. Lowering my expectations I can stay in my happy zone no matter what zone the other person is in, I like my happy place.
Please comment and share an experience you had with expectations and how you worked it out. I’d love to hear from you.