This article describes those moments when we have unrealistic expectations from other people or from ourselves and proposes two ways of how we can leave the labyrinth of these unrealistic expectations.
What you expect from others – “Sometimes the timing is different”
One of the most complex paths that we have to travel in life is that of expectations. On the one hand, there is what you expect from others. You often find yourself excited, anxious. You expect others to act in a certain way: perhaps a gesture, a call, a word, a look, a like … You interpret that which has to happen. In your imagination it is a sign of affection, of appreciation. And for that reason, when it does not arrive, you feel overwhelmed thinking that for those others you are not worth it, you do not matter. You do not realise that sometimes the timing is different, or that others may not express the things in the way your imagination demands. And so, a complex spiral begins. The more disappointed your expectations, the more these multiply. And the floor on which you walk cracks even more.
What others expect from you – “Who can always get it right?”
At the other extreme, there is what you think others expect from you. That is also labyrinthine. For you, it matters to conform: to do things well, to get it right, to respond in a way you are expected to, to have the right word, never to disappoint … But who can always get it right?
What you expect from yourself – “There is a limit to how much we know”
It’s one thing to expect to give your best in what you are doing and according to the principles and values that you have come to cherish. But it’s different when you expect to please everyone or that you will always be a success. As human beings there is also a limit to how much we know. Because of that we cannot expect that we will always have a perfect decision.
The big trap of unrealistic expectations is silence
The big trap of this kind of expectation is silence, because that’s where unrealistic expectations of others and of self grows. In not talking about things, you do not tell others how you feel. Not sharing your insecurity, when you have one, or your need for affection. And then it keeps devouring you. Unspoken words, unspoken conflicts, unshared needs – for fear of being seen as too vulnerable , become an isolating wall. And it is with walls like this that the corridors of the labyrinth are built.
Leaving the labyrinth of unrealistic expectations
1. Find someone with whom you can share your fragility
Be it your spouse, a friend, a spiritual director, a professional, someone to whom you can say: “I need you , or with whom you can laugh about your limits, knowing that s/he loves you that way. And then, through that person, the friendship can become the exit door.
2. Practise gratitude
Start the day in thankfulness for what you will receive from others in a surprising way and close the day in appreciation for what you shared during the day.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1,10)
Based on the original Spanish text written by: Jos Maria Rodriguez Olaizola, sj
Translated by: Fr Jimmy Bonnici
Published: June 2019