Give up Expectations that Anyone Else Should Know What You Want or Need.
Want more Peace of Mind? In the quest for a peaceful mind, the choice to give up expectations is huge! There are actually several parts to this conversation on giving up expectations. Today, I’m addressing the expectations about what someone else should know.
Expectations of this sort are a primary cause of strife, anxiety and frustration, especially within families and intimate relationships. Why is it that we tend to believe that the people who live with or are in close relationship with us, should think like us too — or at least should know what we’re thinking?
The point is that if you wish for someone else to be aware of what you want, what you need or how you feel, then it’s your responsibility to communicate it in a clear, upfront way that they can understand.
I call these “unspoken expectations” because the want or need itself is not communicated. Many times people are holding unspoken expectations of a partner or loved one, yet don’t even recognize that they’re doing it. However, the fact that there is an unmet expectation often is communicated as hurt or anger, in subtle or not-so-subtle and unpleasant ways.
There are different ways these unspoken expectations show up. You can recognize them in your thoughts or self-talk, because they invariably include some form of “should”, or “if” statement. Here are a couple of simple fill in the blank examples:
- “He/she should (ought to, is supposed to) ____________________.”
- “If he/she really cared for/loved me, then he/she would ________________.”
Either way it’s unfair to believe that someone else ought to know what you’re thinking. Further, until the want, need or feeling is communicated in a clear way or let go entirely, it will fester in your consciousness and cause frustration and upset for both you and the other person.
Unrealistic and Unreasonable
Expecting someone else in your life to automatically know what you want, what you need or what you’re feeling is both unrealistic and unreasonable. It is a form of magical thinking and a recipe for disappointment as well as for friction in a relationship. Think about a time you’ve been on the receiving end of an unspoken expectation. It’s no fun at all.
The reality is that unspoken expectations usually do get spoken — eventually. Too often though they’re communicated long after the disappointment or frustration has been set in, and they’re spoken in hurt or anger.
So the solution of course is give up expectations. The unrealistic expectation that someone else should be able to read your mind, and to speak the unspoken, clearly and directly. You can choose to share with the other what it is that you want, need or are feeling. And you can choose to (or learn to) do it in a healthy, non-emotionally charged, easy to receive way.
What You Can Do
If you recognize that you’re feeling frustrated with, angry with or hurt by someone in your life, you might have an unspoken expectation — or several. You can take the following simple steps to find out and then deal with it if you do:
- Take a deep breath, relax your body and bring your attention into the area of your heart.
- Check in with yourself and ask, “Do I have an unspoken expectation of ___________.” Is there some want, need or feeling that I believe___________ should know and do something about?
- If yes, then take another deep breath and imagine letting go of all the emotional charge around that expectation.
- Then ask yourself, “When and how can I communicate this want/need/feeling in a healthy, easy to hear way?” (If you don’t get an answer to it immediately, then just pose the question to your unconscious mind and let the answer come to you over the next few minutes, hours or days.)
- Share the communication with the other person in the context and in the way that will allow it to be most easily received. If necessary, you might also want or need to offer an apology for holding an unspoken expectation of them.
It may not feel easy to you to give up expectations of this kind and communicate your wants, needs and feelings in a clear and direct way. It may even feel a little scary in the short term to begin to do so, but in the long term it’s worth it. To speak openly and honestly with someone you care about shows that you respect and care about them — and yourself.
So give it a try, see what changes for the positive as you give up expectations of the unspoken kind. Notice what’s different with those near and dear to you especially. It’s another step on the path to feeling good about yourself and having Peace of Mind. And that’s certainly worthwhile, isn’t it?
That’s it until next week. Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments or questions below.
If you find that you’re having trouble in this area — whether it’s identifying your expectations, letting go of the emotional charge, figuring out how to communicate in a way that’s easy to hear, or anything else — you may benefit from a little help. There are several ways you can reach out for support through this website. Here are just a couple of them.
- Get a copy of The Forgiveness Handbook – A Simple Guide to Freedom of the Mind and Heart and the Companion Workbook for perspectives and exercises that will help you free yourself from the unresolved painful or upsetting experiences of the past.
- If you want/need some individual support with a specific issue, you can send a voice message directly to me, and we’ll set up a time for a short individual consultation via phone or Skype. Just click on the green “Send a Voice Message” tab on the right edge of your browser and follow the instructions.