Expectations lead to disappointment. Disappointment leads to hurt. Hurt leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate, of course, is the opposite of love. And, as love is something we all need to practice, we’d do well not to hate. Ergo, don’t expect anything from anybody!
This is easier said than done because we tend to have expectations of others. Not only do we expect people to DO things a certain way (our way, of course!), we expect them to BE a certain way too. The problem is that, beyond a certain point, people will never do what we want them to do or be how we want them to be. They cannot. And the expectations we have of them are often unrealistic. Your child is never going to be a surgeon if he is afraid of the sight of blood, no matter how much you might want him to become one!
Consequently, whether it is parents or children, friends or lovers, priests or pastors, anybody and everybody, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we have expectations of them because they will not be able to meet them. We then open ourselves to anxiety, stress, depression, frustration, and a host of other negative emotions. Isn’t this true?
“But,” you might say, “what do I do when it’s my partner’s turn to do the dishes, and he doesn’t? Or when my son flunks his math exam? Am I unreasonable to expect them to fulfill their responsibilities and duties?” No, because these come under the definition of “reasonable expectations,” much like an employer will expect his employee to do his job well. These expectations are justified because the parties have agreed to specific terms or arrived at a mutual understanding.
However, even in such instances, when we are *accepting* of people rather than *expecting* of them, our reactions change. Instead of flaring up and bringing the house down because our spouse didn’t do the dishes, we do the dishes ourselves—with a smile! Instead of blasting our child for failing in math, we try to be affirming and supportive, offering him help to get his grades up. Love inspires people to change; tantrums and threats don’t do anything except give you a rise in blood pressure! Besides, have you ever known anybody to change because you yelled at them?
When we do away with expectations, we give people the freedom to be and to grow, including the freedom to make mistakes. We have not lived a perfect life, so why do we expect others to do so? Know what I’m saying? So, let us let go of unrealistic expectations and say with Bruce Lee: “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
Breathe freely now!