Unrealistic expectations can happen in so many ways, perhaps we look to others for self validation, make assumptions, expect change to be instant or maybe we assign our own belief system to others and are disappointed when they don’t act the way we think they should.
Expecting someone else to make you happy can take us down a road to disappointment. In counselling we stress the importance of self determination. This includes the right to our own happiness and accepting responsibility for our role in this. Planning happiness is like planning a vacation. We set our destination, we do the research, we think about what is important to us, we set a limit and we believe that we are going to have a good time. Approaching life in a similar way helps us to take control and focus on what truly matters to us.
Assuming others know what you’re thinking. I am almost certain that we have all fallen into this trap at some point. Answering “nothing” when asked “what is wrong?” Feeling angry because our colleague got the promotion that we didn’t express interest to our boss about. Expecting people to be mind readers, this is not only unrealistic it is being unfair to ourselves and to the people in our lives. Express yourself to others and you will find that people are more receptive to this approach.
Believing everyone should agree with you. Well there are days I think this is a fabulous idea and it would make my world so much easier! We are all different and a healthy relationship allows for differences and welcomes discussion. Sometimes by listening to someone’s point of view we realize there are other options. We may reassess our own ideas and develop a new belief. Leaving room for different opinions makes room for growth and that is a positive thing!
Thinking you can change someone else. This is something that often makes people very annoyed when they are the person that is expected to change. So the question is why do we expect this of others? We want them to stop smoking or be more thoughtful but they just don’t do what we want. This leads me back to expectation #1. In the Free Dictionary self determination means “Determination of one’s own fate or course of action without compulsion; free will.” Respecting others in our relationships means allowing them to make their own choices. We can support them if they decide to embark on change but we cannot make them do it. As humans we self determine.
In the article Toss Your Expectations Into the Ocean the author suggests letting your expectations go by tossing them into the ocean. They get carried away by the waves and then you can live your life without them. So give it a try and see what happens. It may take a little practice and as you find them creeping back into your life just toss them again and let them float away. You don’t need them anymore because you have made room in your life for more positive thoughts.