Years ago, in my late twenties, a man I worked with confessed his love for me and insisted I was meant to be with him. I was kind and gently told him I thought he was a wonderful person but that I did not feel the same way. I told him that I saw someone else coming into his life soon whom he'd love dearly.
In spite of my kindness, he became viscous and attacked me with horrible scathing words. He had expected me to fall into his arms and when life didn't match expectation, he became hateful. As always God knew best. He met the love of his life soon after and decades later, they are still married.
I've been on the other side of the expectation dance as well. My own expectations of others in my earlier years led to a lot of disappointments. In the past, although I didn't realize it at the time, I "gave to get." I'll never forget the day I was busted on that one! A psychic, who was actually a friend of a guy I was dating said to me, "So is it going to work?" She and I both knew darn well it wasn't the right relationship for me. "I don't know I answered, fibbing."
She looked at me, shook her head and with great compassion and a huge southern accent said, "Mm mm, poor little thing. Always giving in the hopes you gonna get some back." It hurt, but it was truth. I had the expectation that if I just loved enough, gave enough, then this man would be kind to me. Needless to say the relationship didn't work out. I learned a lot however! After it ended, I wrote the "Ten commandments of Ann" about how I was going to ask to be treated in the future and the choices I'd make if I were not.
So how do we get off the expectation / disappointment cycle? Here are a few tips to help you with that this week:
1. Notice where you have expectations or unspoken agreements
- Are you giving to others & expecting them to give back?
- Have you lent money, without agreeing when & how you'll be paid
- Are you in business without clearly spelling out responsibilities?
- Do you expect your kids / spouse / friends to act a certain way?
- Are you expecting someone you're dating to act a certain way?
2. Once you've identified your expectations ask yourself a few questions
- Have I made my expectations clear to anyone who is violating them?
- How can I communicate them kindly?
- What will I do if they don't honor my request?
For example, if you're a giver and expect others to give back, to appreciate you, or to love you for giving, what are you going to say or do, without making themselves or yourself wrong, if they do not?
This step often requires introspection, prayer and sometimes the loving advice of someone you trust.
3. Be honest, Communicate lovingly and kindly.
Once you know how you want to be treated, tell the people around you who are not treating you this way, and share with them what you will do if they can't agree to it.
For example I have said to people, "I deserve to be treated with kindness and you're very upset now, so we'll talk later." Or, "You haven't treated me with kindness and courtesy so I won't be in contact again." Its not easy. Better to treat yourself honestly and well, than to remain bitter or upset at another.
4. If someone has expectations of you that you cannot meet, don't let guilt, shame, or their upset prevent you from listening to your own heart and honoring your own guidance.
"I am sorry I can't help you out today. You've helped me so many times. MIght I do it later?" or "I'm sorry, I can't help you today." If another person gets mad because they expected you to act a certain way and you cannot do so in integrity with your own spirit, then their upset is their issue.
5. Remember - God did not create you to please others – only to be yourself.
When we free ourselves from the burden of others expectations, and when we free others from the burden of own, finally our relationships become honest, authentic, and loving. We naturally stay around those behaviors and people with whom there is a natural fit, and we gently move away from those behaviors and people with whom there is not.