“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21.
Everything since then has been a bonus.”
– Stephen Hawking
Expectations set up an attachment to specific outcomes, leaving little room for fresh possibilities. Consider what would happen if you stop expecting the following, and observe positive changes that arrive in your life.
Here are 10 things you need to stop expecting from others in order to be happier:
Don’t expect other people to validate your worth. Your value lies within yourself. Other people are tuned in to their own lives, busy projecting their own needs and wants onto the world around them. They aren’t emotionally or mentally available to confirm your worth. What they say and do with you is a reflection of their own expectations, and not to be confused with your own.
2. Praise and Appreciation
You may receive praise – or not. You can’t depend upon it from others. If you do good things expecting others to acknowledge it, you set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t do something to earn people’s gratitude; do something because you want to do it, it helps you feel better, or it matches your integrity. Praise yourself. When you take a step in the right direction, overcome a funky mood, or do something kind for others – pat yourself on the back. It doesn’t matter what others see. What matters is what you think about yourself. Make a personal commitment to engage in encouraging self-talk. This leads to self-validation.
No one else can be your full-time cheerleader. A friend can occasionally help pick you up when you are down, but they can’t force you to enjoy life. It’s up to you to set goals and take action to reach them. Stop expecting someone else to do the dirty work for you. Goals needn’t be dramatic, but they do need to move you forward toward something you value. Sitting around waiting for motivation to strike you is a losing battle. Find something – anything – to move you off your bum. Get into motion. Start your blood flowing, engage your mind in something outside of yourself, and feel the momentum build.
No one has had your upbringing, walked in your shoes, or lived your life. Experiences that formed your current view of life are totally different than that of every other person walking this earth. So don’t expect someone else to “get” who you are deep inside. Some will relate closely; others won’t have a clue what you are talking about. Maybe it’s time to let go of insisting others think the way you do, and allow them to have their own perspective, based on their own unique experiences.
Only you can find the possibilities in your day, your relationships, or your life. Sadly, the average person is looking for what is wrong so they can fix it and then feel happy. Just listen to the conversation around you; you’ll find a plethora of complaining and blaming. It’s your choice to participate with that, or to blaze your own trail by focusing on what can go right instead of what is wrong.
Trying to find someone else to fulfill your life is an endless chase. Stop expecting to meet that one person who can meet all of your criteria. One clear dictionary definition of the word “fulfillment” states: “satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.” That’s it. Once you find fulfillment with your own life, you are ready to connect with others in a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship.You have to get right with yourself before others can get right with you.
Others can temporarily prime your happy factor, but they can’t force it on you if you aren’t open to seeing the light that is shining into your daily life. Joy comes from seeing the good things that are already in your life, small as well as large.
A man held in an Afghan prison lived in a cramped cell with a grey concrete floor and metal bed. Only a small window at the top of the outside wall let in a narrow beam of light in the morning. He eagerly anticipated that light, and every day gave thanks for its presence. One cold autumn day, as he shivered on the damp floor, a bright red leaf blew in and landed in front of him. He carefully picked it up and hid it, knowing his captors would take even that one small joy from him. Daily he pulled it out to look at it. Over time it faded to a deep rust, but still it brought the only color to his world. Then one day he found a piece of bright blue thread in the corner under his bed, and hid it away, too. These three joys – a beam of morning sunshine, a dried leaf, and a thread – helped maintain his sanity for three years, until he eventually escaped and fled to freedom. Hearing this, I realize I live in a cauldron of joy – but only if I am willing to look for it.
We need to be silly; to have moments when we are nonsensical, goofy, and irreverent. It keeps us from getting too serious about life. It’s at its best when sharing it with a friend, but sometimes no one is available. Dancing with our cat, twirling across the living room, standing on the bed to deliver a soliloquy, making faces in the mirror, weight lifting with a jug of laundry detergent, sword fighting with dinner spoons, and generally releasing inhibitions, helps release tension. No one else is required for me to make a complete fool of myself, and it sure feels good sometimes. I appreciate people being appropriate in society, but let’s give ourselves a break!
We all have problems. Others can help us sort through potential solutions, but if the problems is in our life, it’s one we helped to create. It’s up to us to resolve what we instigated. Think about it – has anyone’s suggested solution to your problems set right with you? We usually find others’ recommendations miss the mark. Only people with a victim mentality expect others to come to their rescue. Victors review options, take action, and adjust as needed.
If we grew up with negative feedback, we expect judgement from others. When someone offers a comment, we look for a hidden meaning behind their words. We believe everyone has a hidden agenda. Everything other people do is suspect. If someone looks at us funny, we wonder if we have spinach on our teeth, when maybe they are thinking our haircut looks awesome. If we receive a compliment we puzzle over what that person wants from us. If we look for negative feedback, we are certain to find it everywhere. Oprah Winfrey conducted an experiment where beautiful women were given fake scars on their faces to see how people responded to them as they walked down a city street. Unbeknownst to the women, during a “final check” of their fake make up, the fake scars were removed. They went out with their usual beautiful faces, but upon returning, reported people looked at them with judgement, made fun of them, and pointed at them as they walked down the street. What they expected from others is how they interpreted their experience. AND their interpretation was totally incorrect. S
Maybe it’s time to stop expecting from others, and to take charge of your own life. What past mistakes are you ready to forgive yourself for? What old self-image messages that you received from others now ring false? What changes do you want to make? Where do you want to improve? Take your life in hand and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.