Do you need a break?
Would it be really nice to just ‘down tools’ and do something completely different and for yourself today?
Maybe that’s what you need to do; maybe you can plan ahead for this. The trouble is, I hear you say, it’s just not that easy when there are so many people demanding my time and energy, so many things I have to get done in such a short space of time.
We all have those sorts of pressures and time constraints, that’s for sure. The discussion here is about getting you to identify where some of those pressures come from and how you can manage them.
In this article, you have the opportunity here to explore expectations that other people have of you and the expectations you have of yourself. Because, you see, the two are interconnected and the reality. It’s just that often we focus on what other people expect of us – and therefore how they make us feel as a consequence – but underlying this are our own expectations of ourselves, especially in response to other people’s.
Does that make sense? Let’s explore this further to make sure it does………
What do people expect of you? Obviously you can’t know what everyone expects, but a good place to start is with the significant people in your life. Try this exercise to get a bit clearer about expectations and what you can do about them.
1. Think of one significant person or group in your life
2. On a blank piece of paper, write down who they are in the middle of the page
3. It might be your mother or son, your church group, sports club, maybe a colleague at work, your manager or an employee in your business
4. Now, using the page space, jot down some words that describe what you believe are their expectations of you. Here’s an example to get you started:
*Be a loving daughter or son
*Don’t question his opinions
*Don’t disagree with him
*Succeed in everything you attempt
Once you have done this exercise for yourself, look through the list you have created and really think about whether their expectations of you are fair/unfair, realistic/unrealistic or relevant/irrelevant. When I say relevant, I mean how important are they? Beside each expectation, you may want to write whether it is ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’, ‘realistic’ or ‘unrealistic’, ‘relevant’ or ‘irrelevant’ to you
If you have identified some of the words as unfair or unrealistic etc, what can you do about this? Especially if the person or group you identified is very significant in your life.
This can be quite an in-depth exercise to work your way through, so take your time. Certainly there is much more work for you to do within this type of exercise, but for this article, I am wanting to give you a starting point for such work.
So, for now, here are a few suggestions for you to consider. Let’s take the above example (because I don’t know who your significant person or group was).
The expectations of the father were that you didn’t disagree with him or question his opinions. Not disagreeing or questioning would be unfair expectations for a lot of us. The other difficulty we face with such expectations is that they are often unspoken and communicated in a passive-aggressive way.
So again, what can you do about such unfair expectations?
* Firstly, ask yourself the question, “What is the worst that could happen if I did question their views or disagree with their opinion?”
I have worked through a similar scenario in my own life and have learned that it is really important for me to disagree when I feel my values and beliefs are being challenged, or I believe the other person’s behaviour/ideas are unfair or thoughtless.
When I have done this, it’s definitely been met with an antagonistic reaction and plenty of unpleasant things said to each other as a consequence. However, so far, both of us have been able to work through the issue and talk it out – we just do this later, when we’ve both calmed down!
You see, I decided the relationship is important to me but so is being able to express what I think in response to them. So, I do disagree and challenge their ideas; but I also am the one to initiate the talking through later on (because it’s important to me).
I know how easy it is to want to hold on to your anger and frustration, because you are faced with the other person’s negative reaction every time this comes up. But your negative thoughts and feelings aren’t helping you and the other person isn’t affected by them either! They are just taking your energy away from you.
* A strategy I frequently use when I find myself in this situation is to talk it through with my husband (my anchor!). He listens without judging and asks me what I want to do about it rather than give advice about what I should do.
* Do you have someone you can talk this through with? It can be a great step towards healing yourself of those feelings of guilt, anger, utter frustration, provide you with a safe place to vent and then give you the time and space to work through how you will deal with the same situation the next time it occurs.
Whatever you find that works for you when you are faced with people’s unrealistic expectations of you, make sure the outcome doesn’t leave you with your energy sapped and negative thoughts and feelings. This won’t help to sort out the situation and certainly isn’t helping you get on with your life.
©2008 Lesley K Petersen
Lesley has worked and taught in the personal development field for over 20 years. Her website Positively You™ offers you plenty more information, ideas and advice on how to deal with expectations, develop assertive communication skills, how to create a positive, fulfilling life for yourself and much more. Positively You™ is a website about people and for people who want to improve their life and find solutions for their personal and professional lives. Visit www.positivelyou.com today and sign up for Lesley’s free mini-course as well as explore the other opportunities available to you.