Unmet expectations dwell in all of us. We may not even acknowledge some of our underlying expectations but I can assure you they are there. Shaped by your upbringing and your past experiences, unmet expectations can unnecessarily create untold misery in our lives. We have ‘perfect pre-requisites’, unconsciously projecting these needs onto others around us who invariably fail at meeting these invisible standards set for them.
So how do we pinpoint unreasonable expectations? Perhaps you expect your partner to be more assertive. Maybe he/she needs to earn enough to meet expectation. Whenever there is resentment, look or the preceding unmet expectation.
1) A partner who helps more with the housework
2) A partner that is considerate and thoughtful
3) Sex ‘X’ times per week
4) A partner who earns a certain amount of money
5) A partner with intelligence
6) The right to be treated fairly and with respect
Some of us have unrealistic expectations that are either too high or too low. An example of an expectation is too high is to want to be treated respectfully at all times. You have every right to expect that, but no doubt you will most certainly be disappointed as we all come across rude and tactless people in life. An example of an expectation that is too low: expecting that your partner doesn’t beat you. I have met come clients who are fine with verbal abuse and being neglected and feel fortunate if they find someone who doesn’t regularly hit them. This type of low expectation generally comes with an abusive background.
Letting go of unmet expectations is the path to freedom. Our thoughts create unnecessary stress for us and releasing these rigid ideas allows acceptance to take it’s place and offers healthier thinking that can explore alternatives.
Ask yourself whether there is another way to get your expectations met. We can’t control others and expecting others to conform to our ideal is a waste of energy. Instead, focus on empowering yourself by thinking about what you can control.
If your expectation is to have a partner that earns more money, think about other ways to achieve this. Are you able to find ways to earn money yourself or can you team up with your partner and do something together?
Do you expect your partner to help more around the house? You could spend the rest of your life wishing your partner was a certain way but the reality might be that they just never will be. Accept and look at alternatives. Take control back and look and what is possible. It is very difficult to take someone else’s basic character…so work with what you have and/or work around it. Get a cleaner in.
What to do:
1) Limit any sense of entitlement that you may have. Expect less for your own sanity
2) Communicate with others. Ask closed questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer. Be specific. Ask them what is reasonable to expect – understand the parameters you are working with.
3) The more you expect, the more that will be ‘at stake’ in terms of being disappointed. Don’t ignore expectations but remember that rigidly held expectations end up hurting you more than the person you are expecting from.
4) Shift the focus onto areas/others where you do get support and get expectations met – whether they are materialistic expectations or emotional expectations.
5) Let it go. In the grand scheme of things, is the particular expectation really that important? Be creative and resourceful in getting your needs met. The more adaptable you are and getting your meeds met, the better off you’ll be.