“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.”
Expectations and Assumptions
Did you ever beat yourself up from missing that lob shot on the tennis court? Do you think that you are a bad mom? Did you get straight A’s in high school? Do you blame yourself for not getting that promotion. Could you have been famous?
The strange thing about expectations is that 90% of them have come from other people and dropped on us without our notice. Expectations have shaped and driven our lives when they never came from our own wants. They have made us who we are today and, sometimes, we wonder why we are not happy or content.
If you can, think about why you do what you do. The answer will be because someone told you to. It is okay to deny this and get defensive, it hurts to realize that we have not been the captain of our ship.
We should be the star in our own movie and not acting it out for someone else.
The expectations come from authority figures. Often parents but also our children who do have some authority over your life. A person with a badge will get you to live up to their expectations. Your boss and your country and even your favorite movie star. Think of how Taylor Swift got all of those kids to register to vote.
The frustrations in our lives come from when we are not clear on why we are doing what we do. An example could be frustration at failing college, when, if considered; a person might realize that they are responding to their parents vision of them or their dream. All of our lives, over and over, we find ourselves in situations not of our own choosing but meeting someone else’s expectations. We were so unaware that we accept the moment and never questioned the original why.
Even when you set your own goals and think that you are declaring your life your own, those goals came from someone else; you are trying to make someone proud. Chasing that approval leads to an empty life.
The curious thing is that whoever put those expectations on you and that which you are responding to (maybe for your whole life) probably doesn’t remember doing it or they had zero intention at all.
We love examples. About two years ago, I wrote a blog post. My brother, surely an authority and fellow blogger, replied with “good post, you should share this with all of your theater friends.” That is expectation dropped in plain sight. Does he remember writing this and surely his intention was for the best and fleeting. But I remember that comment today because I rejected it. It is a big deal to not live up to expectations.
My parents expected me to go to college, my wife expected me to remember the date of our first kiss, my boss expected me to “be better”, my life was expected to be a success, my friend expected me to be funny, and so on. This happened to you too. And because of those expectations dropped on me, I made decisions to honor them with almost no thought to my own satisfaction or happiness or relief.
You are urged to think about why you are doing what you are doing. Negotiate with yourself for a few minutes. Maybe you are reading this long boring blog post out of a sense of duty, could you turn it off and walk away?
Assumptions are Overt Expectations. These are not dropped on us unaware. They are stated clearly about how you will behave and act and do. From someone else, again an authority figure.
“Of course we will visit my parents on the holiday.” That overt expectation is telling you where you will be, how much you will spend, who you will be with and a specific time. You don’t get to argue without being a no-good-shit. Maybe “no brainer” or “chapter closed” will finish it, both ugly phrases.
People drop assumptions on us all of the time. At least with expectations we can pretend that they are hidden motives, buried in our psyche. When someone assumes that you will be a certain way, it is almost impossible to get out from under it; you will have to be a rebel and called unreasonable and, again, a no-good-shit. It is horrible to break assumptions but they are dropped on us all of the time. Don’t we get to defend ourselves?
Are you really in control of your life, that is all that I am asking. Are you the hero of your own story. You should be.
I can’t imagine growing up and being told that I’m stupid. A lot of people drop negative expectations on others, mostly for power or maybe fear. You will never.
Negative expectations are an evil tool and be wary of those who use it on you. I have read so much about “self defeating” and I question even the term and, in fact, as of this moment: reject it entirely. Nothing is self defeating, that is someone else’s expectation put on us. Fire back, stand up, walk strong and be brave — for you!