My wife and I have often said that “expectations ruin relationships”. And it’s true, but what’s missing from that statement is why do expectations ruin relationships?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked and I have been sitting with it for some time to get very clear on the confusion around expectations. I never felt like I had a solid answer, until now.
Let’s break this down a bit. The first question you want to ask yourself is…
“Are the expectations I am having actually realistic?”
Take a romantic partner for example. Of course, there are some basic core values in a relationship that has to be met in order for that relationship to be sustained, such as respect and safety. But are your expectations simply a projection of your own values upon your partner?
If we take a core value around health for example, where one person values their health and the other doesn’t, well there is clearly a misalignment here which may cause some issues because these are fundamental parts of living where each day we are making simple decisions, like what to eat, which can cause friction if we have an expectation for the other person to live by our core health values.
It’s the same for all relationships. We can’t expect anyone else to live with our values. That’s what makes them OUR values. We all have our own unique set of core values. No two people have identical values.
You have two choices. You either accept that person’s core values or your leave. Trying to make someone live by your values is only going to make you both angry.
In my last episode, I spoke about how having an imbalanced one-sided perspective makes you upset or emotional. Well similarly here, having imbalanced expectations on people and things around you only lead to anger. It’s not realistic to have an expectation of world peace for example. As much as I am sure we would all love world peace, if we become attached to the expectation of world peace then we are going to be disappointed because in a universe where everything is perfectly balanced, then peace is only present when it is balanced out by war. Why do you think that many peace rallies end up resulting in violence?
Anger is as a result of having unrealistic expectations on yourself, other people, and even things. I can get very angry when technology does not work perfectly. It’s one thing that drives me nuts, but now I have clarity around expectations, I can see I need to let go of the fantasy that technology is perfect.
And with people, they will always live according to their own values, not yours. Feelings of blame or anger or even betrayal come from having unmet unrealistic expectations. We stay angry when we don’t bring those expectations back into alignment with reality.
So we have to get clear on what our own core values are because if we don’t, we can easily place expectations upon ourselves which don’t even align with our true values. Because if we don’t, all we are going to do is get frustrated and angry with ourselves.
Anger can be a precursor to depression because it’s that first big sign from the universe that it is time for us to adapt. But if we stay angry at ourselves or other people, well no wonder we can end up feeling down or depressed.
Anger is our own innate built-in language to communicate that we have expectations not based on reality. When we live in a fantasy world with expectations that everyone else will comply with our own core values, we are setting ourselves up for a rocky road through life. Depression even can be a sign that we are simply living out of alignment with our own core values. A self-imposed fantasy world where you can never satisfy yourself and always setting yourself up for failure.
No wonder we feel down, or angry, or hurt when we are creating a reality where there is nothing but unreality. Let’s take a look at the expectations that are placed upon us by the media and society. Every magazine advertisement, or tv commercial sets us up for failure because the majority of the time we are shown everything in the most perfect light.
From airbrushed skin to the imagery of the dream house and car, we are under a daily barrage of fantastical imagery which can lead us to fabricate expectations of ourselves that have no basis of reality or alignment with our own core values. So I ask you this… is it any wonder that 1 in 9 Americans take antidepressant medication? We are surrounded by a world that tries to inform us of what our core values should be.
For me, anger is something we project onto others, and frustration is more of an internal anger. So next time you feel angry or frustrated that someone else or some thing is not living up to your expectations, remember, they, or it, never will. Being clear on our core values takes us from fantasy to reality and a world where we are much less disappointed.
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