No one actively goes out to hurt themselves but so many of us do it all the time. Having high expectations of others will end up harming you in the long term. It’s all too easy to hurt ourselves when we think that others are going to behave the way we do.

Stop expecting you from others

In the words of Vivian in Pretty Women “big mistake, huge!” We have to learn to stop expecting ourselves from others. If we can raise our self awareness enough about this, we can truly start to understand why we get hurt. Then we can put an end to it once and for all.

Unhelpful patterns of behaviour

Have you ever noticed that you repeat the same pattern of behaviour with a particular person in your life? Let’s use a friend for the first example.

You have a friend, you love them, you love spending time with them but every now and then, you’re hurt by them. Now I’m not talking purposeful hurt. I’m talking about the kind of hurt that happens when you’ve left them. You want to talk about something that’s bothering you but they end up talking about themselves. You’re then hurt and this internal dialogue starts: “I never do that to you” “I always listen to you and your problems, why can’t you do it for me?”

This is because, they can’t. There’s nothing wrong with your friend – unless there is but that’s a whole other blog post. What’s wrong in this scenario is that you expect YOU from your friend. And that’s unrealistic.

Expectations of others in the workplace

If we work at a certain level, we expect everyone else to work the way we do. When they don’t, we feel demotivated, or even sometimes like we’ve been taken for a ride.

If we feel this way often enough, we’ll leave jobs in the hope that the next company will provide more employees like yourself. But it never happens and then we end up thinking we’re the problem. Which we kind of are but for workable reasons.

Expectations in relationships

We do this with our partners. One example is that I like the washing up completed by night. I like to wake up to a tidy kitchen. I expect my husband to as well. He doesn’t. The washing up does not get done and I am then annoyed with him. This is not his fault, this is my expectation. I have ended up annoying myself because of my expectations of others.

When we’re dating, let’s say you’ve met someone on an app. You’ve been pretty upfront about yourself and what you want and you’ve automatically expected the other person to have done the same.

You date, you’re still being true to yourself, you still assume the other person is too but actually, they may not be. They may well be being true to themselves but it’s not the same as the way you do. So it doesn’t work out. You keep dating like this, same result happens.

How can we manage unrealistic expectations?

The simple answer is ‘mindset’. But how can you affect your mindset and know that you’re still being authentic to yourself? That you are not always the one compromising, that you are not the problem?

Well, you are the problem – and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Like an addict, if you can first admit to yourself that you behave a certain way and the results that you get in your life don’t make you happy. Then changing your mindset is only going to give you the results that you actually want.

If you know that someone in your life never picks up the phone, never arranges dates, never listens to your needs, then stop and take take stock. It’s like inventory.

Do a little stock check of the people in your life that you feel disappointed by and list the pros and cons of the relationship. This list is just for you. For you to objectively review your relationships and see what you get from who.

What you may find is that you want to get something from a specific person but they can’t always deliver exactly what you need at a particular time, but perhaps someone else in your life does. So use your people for the right things. And I don’t mean use as in be a user. I mean turn to the people who can give you what you need.

How life coaching can help with your expectations of others

If we were in a coaching relationship, I would dig a lot deeper for example through NLP presuppositions to help you up-level your self awareness.

For now though, just be careful with expectations.

  • Remember to evaluate who you are as a person and what you bring to the table.
  • Understand that what you do is not the same as what someone else will do.
  • Really make an active effort to see this in your relationships.
  • You will be more confident in yourself and your relationships, knowing that they cannot hurt you.
  • Raise your self awareness so you know when it’s you and not them.

This work takes some getting used to. Self-reflection can be tough but the rewards are so worth it. And if you do this work, you will have more control over not only your own behaviour but also you’ll be able to choose who deserves to be in your life and with how much you give to them.

Puja K McClymont | Certified Life Coach in London and NLP Practitioner

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