Turn Setbacks into Setups
Dealing With The Unrealistic Expectations Of Others
July 2, 2019
Are you living someone else’s life?
Here are a few symptoms:
- You don’t love, or even like, what you’re currently doing
- You feel like there’s something you’re missing out on
- There is something you long to do instead
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get wound up in others’ unrealistic expectations about our lives. This makes it hard to stay happy, and to focus on what we want. But isn’t it time to start putting your own happiness first, rather than following a path someone else has laid out for you?
Expectations Are Everywhere
The problem is that we don’t exist in a void. We’re not alone—and everyone around us has their own expectations of us. Sometimes people come at us with expectations from the moment they meet us. We’re categorized as a certain type of individual based on our job or background, or we’re simply expected to think and behave a certain way.
Expectations are a very human concept. Unfortunately, it’s also very human to feel driven to follow others’ expectations—whether they’re right for us or not.
The problem is that when others expect something, they aren’t accepting reality. Instead, they’re forcing their own reality on us. They’re envisioning what they think will happen…and if you’ve ever heard the saying “Expectations are premeditated resentments,” you know what happens next.
Which expectations are unrealistic? You probably already know, deep down, which ones they are. For example, it’s reasonable for others to expect you to come to work on time if you’ve signed a contract, or for your partner to expect you to do your share of the housework. But unrealistic expectations at work might include impossible assumptions about your performance, interests, or skills. You might find that unrealistic expectations in relationships include fairy-tale notions or unfair power dynamics.
A quick rule of thumb: if (especially for a long period of time) you feel weighed down by others’ expectations, or if you’re simply unhappy with what you’re doing in the long-term, then those expectations are probably not realistic.
Start Putting Yourself First
Pleasing other people is a moving target. As you move toward them, expectations fluctuate and change—meaning that it’s impossible to finally succeed once and for all, or to be done with expectations for good.
If you want to stop following unrealistic expectations and find your own happiness, it’s time to speak up. If you keep going with the flow, the assumption is that you’re fine with how things are going. Only by making your thoughts known can you overcome expectations and truly be yourself. At the end of the day, only you know what you want, and only you can choose what expectations you follow—whether they’re your own or someone else’s.
You are in charge of your life. You are in charge of your happiness. And only you can defend your own interests. No one’s going to rescue you from living an unhappy life—so what are you going to do to change things yourself?