Welcome to the New Year! Hope 2013 is treating everyone well.
I’d like to kick off the posts this year with a little something about expectations. Learning to right side expectations was one of my key self-projects for last year and I’d love to share what I learned.
First, let’s get on the same page with what I mean when I write “expectations.” From Wikipedia:
In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise. An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order.
One of the primary ways we violate other people’s boundaries is with our expectations, especially those expectations that we haven’t communicated. Learning to right side our expectations will give us visibility into respecting our loved ones.
Often in this world, we’re cultured to have expectations of other people’s behavior, especially in response to our own. For example, when we say “Good Morning” to someone on the street as we walk past, we have a clichéd, societal expectation that their response should be “Good Morning” in return. So when we happen across that occasional person who instead responds “Indeed, it is!” We’re startled.
We offered a gift – the wish of a good morning. The CORRECT response to a gift is to accept it with gratitude. Acknowledge it.
How about another example? I bring up the next example because we are nearing Valentine’s Day and I already know three or four people who are going to be a little more than ticked at their significant other for not meeting (unspoken) expectations…. (That unspoken bit is something we’re going to dig into deeper, bear with me)
That example is the statement “I Love You.” And the expected response of “I Love You, too” when said to another person.
I was watching a movie recently where the lead female gave her beau a big hug, quick kiss, then pulled back to tell him she loved him “I love you.” His response? A big, happy smile.
She quickly pulled away from him and asked him, didn’t he love her, too? Which of course, he did. An exchange back and forth “Then why didn’t you say it back” on and on… I won’t get into the entire scene.
What is my point with this example? Expectations. Hers.
An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order.
She offered him her love “I love you;” he accepted with his big, happy, and rather goofy smile. And he had demonstrated multiple times throughout the movie that he did, in fact, love her too. So why the expectation that he say the words in response?
Does it diminish her love for him because he did not answer in kind? No. It does not. It did, however, detract from her gift. Rather than allowing him to receive and bask in the warmth of her gift, she immediately polluted it with unspoken expectations. (Worse, since this was a fictional exchange in a movie…. It helped to cultivate that societal belief that we must respond, in kind, immediately).
How do we change this? Two ways – focus on our intent and learning to right-side our expectations.
Over the next week or so, think about the expectations you place on yourself, on others. Watch for clichéd responses.
How do you respond to “I Love You?” To a compliment? Do you receive with genuine sincerity? For that matter, do you give with genuine sincerity?
When you say “I love you” are you saying it with the expectation that the other person says it back? Are you saying it because you really feel it? If your family is like mine, it’s possible that it has become just the thing you say as you leave the house, hang up the phone, etc.
If someone compliments you, do you accept it with grace or try to find a response? When giving compliments, do you give them with the expectation that you’ll get one back?
What is the intent? Think about it. Bring awareness to your actions and responses.
More next time.
In Light & Love