We expect a lot from our relationships. I know I do. Mostly because I want to receive love in the way I give it- freely and expressively.
Today I realised I was wrong to expect that… or anything for that matter.
As we know, our brain is sort of like a super computer, constantly receiving and processing information, and a large part of that processing job is to seek out as much knowledge as it can in order to keep us safe. It scans people, things, and places for perceived threats, and looks to relay that information back to us quickly, and in a clear and concise manner.
This means that when you meet someone, your brain is immediately deciding on the best labels to give to that person.
But the problem is that once our brain has completed the original task of scanning for threats, it moves on to finding more and more categories. The labels start to pile up and cross over. It all gets a bit messy. Why? Because people can’t be categorised. We are all intricately different, with individual needs, ideas and perspectives, and to expect someone to behave in a certain way is borderline insane-o.
And once these labels have been placed on someone in your life, all of a sudden that person has something to live up to. Your brain has decided that they are not a threat, as long as their behaviour fits inside that label. Therein lies the expectation.
It gets worse. Expectations don’t really like to compromise. After all, they were put there to keep you safe, and so when someone doesn’t live up to them it’s not pretty. We end up feeling hurt and disappointed. We blame, criticize or reject them for not being good enough, or for not knowing better.
We need to be able to recognise that our expectations of people do absolutely nothing for us, or for our relationships. If we decide that someone is going to behave in a certain way, I am certain that we will be disappointed. And the truth is, they were never going to get it right.
So how can we avoid feeling this way towards our loved ones when they don’t live up to our expectations?
1- First, we need to rip off the label. The great thing about recognizing that you are holding an expectation of someone is that you give yourself the opportunity to remove it. This doesn’t mean you have to accept things you don’t like. I am simply saying that once you recognise that there is an expectation on your side you can go in and remove it.
2- Ask yourself honestly- does this person know what I need right now? If the answer is a no or even just a maybe- then you need to tell them. It sounds fucking obvious but lets be authentic here, it’s much easier to try and get the other person to try and guess what it is you need than to be vulnerable enough to say it.
3- Get brave. No one knows what you are thinking, so you need to let the other person know what your needs are. No need to keep wishing they ‘understood you’. And no need to press the crazy button because you feel misunderstood.
I have learned that life isn’t about getting what you deserve a lot of the time, it’s about getting what you ask for. It will take practice, but if you have the courage to let the people close to you know what you need, it’s highly likely that they will give you just that.