#Askingforafriend: Expectations

By Kristan Farley
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

Scholars who have studied William Shakespeare’s works say that a quote often attributed to him – “Expectation is the root of all heartache” – never appears in any of his plays, sonnets or poems. But there’s no doubt that consistently unmet expectations lead to disconnection and loneliness.

You may have the basic expectation that people should be nice, do what they say they are going to do or know what you need without you having to ask. That sounds wonderful, but it’s not reality.

Everyone has their own concerns and may not act the way we want. Our first job is to be aware of what we want and need and hold expectations of others loosely.

Helpful tips to release expectations and come to a place of acceptance:

  • Do not expect people to be better than they are right now.
  • Assume the other person is doing the best they can for today.
  • Do not expect that if a person loves you they should know what you need without you asking. It is your job to know what you need and then ask for what you want or need at the time you want it. A person can deeply love you and still need you to communicate your wants to them regularly.

When we are in a closer connection with someone, we can work on what to expect together. We can take steps to agree upon expectations:

  • Conscious (Are you aware you have the expectation?)
  • Clear (Is it clear to the other person?)
  • Detailed (Is it detailed?)
  • Agreed upon (Did you discuss it with the person? Did you hear their point of view? Did they agree to do this?)
  • Hold it loosely (Hold expectations loosely because people make mistakes.)

Example:

  • I would like them to take out the trash (conscious).
  • Every Friday at 6 a.m. (clear).
  • When it is overflowing or smelling, take it out and put a clean trash bag in the bin (Detailed).
  • Then, this conscious, clear, detailed expectation can be shared with another person for their input, compromise and agreement. Even if that person agrees, they are bound to miss some of the steps at times, so hold it loosely and believe the best about the other person when they miss it.

Lots of terms can have multiple definitions. For instance, the word “respect” might need clarity. What does respect look like to you in a conscious, clear and detailed explanation?

Ultimately, we cannot force another person to meet our expectations, but we can try to have agreement on key topics in our close relationships. Sometimes, people might not agree or follow through on expectations, and if these expectations are an essential part of our value system we may not be able to be in close relationship with that person.

We always can choose to treat others with respect and love in a way that is consistent with our values while knowing others will not always meet our expectations. Hold those expectations loosely and set boundaries when needed.

Adapted from Peter Scazerro, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/