Stop Expecting Others to Act the Way You Want Them To

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As an Intentional Living Expert, I work with many clients on ways to get “unstuck” and to re-invent their lives.  I’ve noticed that one subject comes up a lot is their disappointment in someone else in their lives. When we put our expectations on others, that is asking them to live the way WE want them to live instead of the way THEY want to live.  It is certainly okay to put our own expectations upon ourselves, but it is not okay to put them on others.  We need to stop expecting others to act the way you want them to.

I am not referring to your boss who has expectations for you to show up on time for work and to perform your job, or as a parent to expect your children to obey certain house rules.  What I am referring to is behavioral expectations we create within ourselves on how we want others to behave.

Let me give you an example.

A client of mine was dating a man that she really cared for.  He really cared for her as well.  There were many things “right” about him, except she didn’t like how frugal he was, he didn’t make a lot of money, and money wasn’t very important to him.  For her, money was very important.  She likes to buy nice things, she loves to spend money and in her words “enjoy her life” in that way.  It became a big problem in their relationship when it came time to possibly move in together.

The question is:  Is it up to HIM to meet HER financial needs?  The answer is no.  There are three options available:

  1. She can make more money herself to afford her lifestyle.
  2. She can accept him as he is and learn to live on a smaller income.
  3. She can end the relationship and find someone who will fill that need for her.

It’s perfectly fine to want what you want.  But, that does not mean that someone else will want it, too.  Expectations of others has ended many, many relationships!  I could share countless stories that I hear from my clients.  Almost every one of their “issues” in their current or past relationships has been related to having a level of expectation from someone else to be more like them.

Think about where this is “showing up” in your life.  Do you have certain expectations in your relationships with your spouse, your parents, your kids, your lover, your friends?  Have you had any relationships end because of unrealistic expectations?

Here are three strategies to drop your expectations of others so that you can feel more joy in these relationships, and in your life in general:

Begin to Notice When You Feel Disappointed

When you start to observe your feelings of disappointment, pay attention to WHY you are feeling that way.  What was the event that occurred for you?  You will start to notice a pattern where you have expectations of others.  TAKE NOTE OF WHO AND WHY.

Ask Yourself Why You Need That

This is really powerful!  Become very curious as to why you wanted it.  What you’ll begin to see is that the reason you wanted it is because you want to know that “you matter,” as Oprah Winfrey states.

That is one of the things she knows for sure.  What I know for sure is that we all want to be seen, heard, appreciated and acknowledged.  We want to feel valued and validated.  Here’s the problem with that…it sets us up for so much disappointment!  Even if the person behaves or responds the way you want them to, the first time they don’t, you will feel hurt.

The power must come from WITHIN YOU.  A healthy level of self-love will block those feelings of disappointment.  When you TRULY love and accept yourself, you know this and understand this.

Practice the EED Process

This powerful process is in my book “I Have Today:  Find Your Passion, Purpose and Smile…Finally!”

This 3-step process is one of the most effective tools I’ve created.  Emotional Energy Diffuser steps are:  Breathe, Think, Praise and here is how it works:

When you start to feel disappointment, take a moment to pause and take a deep breath.  We always feel some immediate relief whenever we do this.  (Try it right now…take a breath.  Don’t you feel a little bit better?)

Next, think for a moment and say to yourself “wait, this has nothing to do with me!”  It’s so true!  It doesn’t!  Someone else’s response or behavior has EVERYTHING to do with them and what they are feeling and experiencing.  Therefore, you must learn how to not take it so personally.

Last, think about that person and praise them in your mind by saying to yourself, “they are doing the best they can today.  This is all they have to give, and it is enough.”

This process really works!  Please start practicing it in all areas of your life and then let me know how it’s working for you!

When you drop your expectations of others, you are going to be surprised and delighted at the level of happiness you start experiencing in your life!  Your relationships, your level of connection, your level of self-love and acceptance is going to blow you away!  We don’t need others to change to suit our needs or expectations.  We just need to love ourselves more and also accept others JUST AS THEY ARE!

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Quote:  “To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.” – Joan Didion