A friend disappointed me recently, or so I “thought”. Turns out their response to a situation was different than what I believed it should have been, aka “expected” from them, and I was disappointed. “That’s not what I would of done”, I kept thinking and I was upset they didn’t respond in the exact same way I would have. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this way, it's human nature and most of us were never taught differently. We learned early in life and society confirms when you expect something from someone and your needs are not met, you should be disappointed. So if I was just doing what I have been conditioned my whole life to think, what’s the problem? The problem for me was I was counting on them to make me feel better. My subconscious mind was thinking, “This is what I want you to do and if you do it I'll be happy, if you don’t, I won't”.
Expecting someone else to do something the exact same way we would puts a big expectation on them and alleviates us from any responsibility. It’s a convenient way of not taking ownership of our feelings, it’s easier to blame another person and “expect” more from them. We usually do this without even realizing it. But when we do, aren’t we giving them all the power over how we feel and not expecting more from ourselves? Because if you think about it, when we place an expectation on anyone but ourselves, we are frequently disappointed. No one is ever going to do things exactly the way we would, so why do we place such a demanding expectation on them?
Ok, then are we never supposed to expect anything from anyone? You can, but just be aware of what that expectation means to you, how are you anticipating it will make you feel? My dictionary defines expectation as the “anticipation of something happening”. Along with an expectation we often attach a subconscious feeling of what we are going to feel when that expectation is met, and when it’s not met the way we anticipated, there lies the disappointment. So maybe a better question we should think about is why do we allow others to determine our happiness? What if we expected ourselves to be in charge of our own happiness? What if we expected from ourselves the same high standards we hold others to? I expect others to be tolerant and understanding of me, but do I show myself the same compassion? I expect others to be kind and loving to me, but I am often my biggest critic. Next time I find myself disappointed because of an expectation I had that wasn’t met, I’m going to first look in the mirror and ask myself these questions first. And, I’m going to try to understand we are all doing the best we can-and that is good enough.