Are You Expecting Too Much?
Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves
THE CURSE OF EXPECTATIONS
We pick on ourselves when we don't meet our own expectations. We feel sad and angry when others don't meet the expectations we put on them. And even when our expectations are met we don't feel very good about it. We just say: "I expected it anyway."
If we would just stop expecting things we could save ourselves a lot of unhappiness!
WHAT IS REASONABLE TO EXPECT FROM OTHERS?
It is only reasonable to expect that people will do what they say they will do. This is all we can reasonably expect - that people will keep their word.
Sometimes even expecting people to keep their word is unreasonable. People who break their word regularly aren't trustable. We'd be wise to have no expectations at all about them.
WHAT IS REASONABLE TO EXPECT FROM OURSELVES?
The only reasonable expectations are those that come from agreements or contracts. And since contracts are always between at least two people, making a contract with ourselves is impossible! When we refer to "agreeing with ourselves" about something, we are actually agreeing with the air!
When people make an agreement with themselves they are talking about something that they are trying to change and that they are only hoping will work.
We can say "I'm going to lose ten pounds this year." We say this because we feel a need to set a goal to overcome our consistent pattern of eating and exercising.
It would be more honest to say:
"I'm expecting to eat and exercise the way I always do, so I'm going to TRY to pay attention to these things during the next year and I only HOPE that I will lose 10 pounds."
It's only reasonable to expect consistency from yourself. Everything else is just something you are HOPING for and TRYING to accomplish.
Yes I am!
THE CURE FOR EXPECTATIONS ABOUT OURSELVES
The person who wanted to lose 10 pounds would be wise to:
1) Admit that they really want to continue to eat and exercise the way they always did.
2) Know that they are totally acceptable this way.
3) Experiment to find new ways of eating and exercising that they actually like to do.
4) Keep doing the new things they like to do until they no longer even have to think about it.
FIRST - Know what you really want.
SECOND - Accept yourself as you are. (Picking on yourself only reinforces worse behavior!)
THIRD - Try new behaviors to see if you might actually want to do them.
LAST - Repeat the new behaviors until they are habits. (This takes six months to a year.)
THE CURE FOR EXPECTATIONS ABOUT OTHERS
Directly ask people for what you want. If they don't give a clear answer, ask again. When they say a clear "yes" or a clear "no," accept it
BUT WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT?
Then you can't expect anyone else to know what you want either. Nobody can guess what you want.
We learn what we want by reading our feelings well. If you need help noticing your feelings and finding out what you want, that's a therapist's job.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT OTHERS
1) Decide what the other person would have to actually do for you to be satisfied.
2) Ask for these specific behaviors from them. (This usually includes teaching and giving concrete examples.)
3) Examine your standards: (Can you change your standards to make them better for you?)
4) Accept that things are what they are (after you've done a good job of #1 and #2).
5) Be responsible: (For either staying in this situation or for finding a better one.)
Which of these common expectations do you have?
___ "I expect fair treatment at work."
___ "I expect equal work around the house."
___ "I expect help from family and friends."
___ "I expect to enjoy being with my friends."
___ "I expect to be loved."
___ "I expect good sex."
___ "I expect enough cuddling and hugs."
___ "I expect people to be honest ."
___ "I expect people to like me."
___ "I expect people to want to be with me."
___ "I expect people to leave me alone."
___ "I expect children to obey."
___ "I expect my therapist to help me."
___ "I expect children to listen."
___ "I expect children to learn."
___ "I expect my cat to use the litter box!"
Now think about each item you checked and decide how to use # 1 through #5 in the last paragraph to work toward actually getting what you want (instead of wasting any more of your time waiting, hoping, and expecting).
Enjoy Your Changes!
Everything here is designed to help you do just that!
Staff, H. (2008, November 12). Are You Expecting Too Much?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, February 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/inter-dependence/are-you-expecting-too-much