Whose expectations?

There are important lessons at every twist and turn in my life, and often these are lessons I have been ignoring for years. Most recently, I have been focusing on expectations – how they affect me every day, and what I can learn from them.

I have previously written posts about managing other people’s expectations* and about managing our own expectations** of what we believe we can or should do in a particular situation. There are still lessons for me to learn about these two types of expectations, but in recent weeks I have been more interested in a third category – living up to what I think others expect of me. It has become clear to me that I put considerable pressure on myself (and unrealistic demands on my time) by meeting what I believe other people expect of me rather than what they have explicitly said they expect. Why? Why do I make assumptions about others’ expectations and then do my best to live up to them? The answer is embarrassingly simple. I never want to disappoint anyone and because of this I have set an unrealistic bar for myself that exceeds virtually everyone else’s expectations of me. It is a chronic and exhausting condition. Do you have it, too?

As many of us prepare for holiday and New Year dinners, parties, and other events, all three categories of expectations step into the spotlight as we make our plans. Most of us have learned to navigate these brief periods of over-commitment, but what I have realized in recent weeks is that, in fact, expectations take the center stage spotlight every day of my life. Every single day. Living up to what I believe other people expect of me is a huge burden that (up until now) I have voluntarily carried most of the days of my adult life. I know I am not alone in this expectation syndrome. I recognize it in many people.

So, as we prepare for a New Year, and for new beginnings, I invite you to consider joining me in making a bright and shiny new commitment that I will make no assumptions about what others need or want from me. When the many people I love, value and respect want or need me to do something for them, they will ask or I will offer. The change will be that these will be actual conversations, real questions and responses, rather than the phantom variety that weigh heavily – and unnecessarily – on our choices and our time.

Happy New Year! May each day of 2020 be full of love, light, joy, compassion, and forgiveness for ourselves and for all.
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* Invisible Hoops; Learning to Say “No”…AGAIN!; Who Stands Between You and Your Dreams?; Feeling Good About “No”; Navigating Others’ Expectations; Asking “Do I really, really want to do this?”
** Saying Goodbye to the Little Red Hen; Not Exactly a Vacation Day!
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Photo credit: © Newstock | Dreamstime.com

6 thoughts on “Whose expectations?”

  1. thanks for the reminder Sharon. We are creatures of habit and sometimes have to unlearn a lifetime of learning! Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020!
    xx Laura

  2. Such a wonderful and necessary reminder at this time of year. The pressures of pleasing everyone are all too real. Thanks for Sharing Sharon 💚

  3. Agree whole heartedly and I’m working to simplify and edit what I have always done, mostly for myself because it’s what my mom always did, but I find that my boys and my husband don’t ask for or need all of the decorations and stuff to be happy. Sorry, I’m lightening up and it’s beautiful! And I can relax and enjoy spending time with them! Thanks Sharon as this is a great, timely reminder.
    Happy Holidays to all❤️

  4. What a beautiful piece, and so true too! May I be kinder to myself and by extension, to others by being authentic always. May 2020 be a wonderful one for you and your loved ones. Enjoy Christmas and the holiday with family and friends. Thanks dear friend

  5. How I needed to read this today! What a subtle and wholly significant third category — one I inhabit all year especially the month of December. Among the many expectations…it is small, but I always think I am expected to make hand-made treats (it aligns with my identity/history), and for the last week I have been wondering how/when that would happen — it is really just a thought! I am now rethinking the pressure I am putting on myself. Abundant gratitude dear Sharon for sharing a part of you and in so doing so compassionately transforming us.

  6. This is a wonderful, timely expansion of looking at “expectations”. You have added a third dimension to it. The mere word itself feels “heavy” to me… it seems tied to a four-letter word “duty” 🙂 And yet, there can be much freedom in doing our “duty” for the greater good, when we do it with the pure love and joy of doing it… a bit like making tea in the morning for a loved one, sitting, simply sharing 🙂 Namaste, and all the best of 2020 to you!

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