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Expectation is the root of all heartache.

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Coined by Shakespeare, this quote rings true in so many situations. For today, I am going to focus on expectations in relationships. Even the healthiest relationships can be undermined by expectations. And when I talk about expectations, I mean day to day expectations of others. Not standards like wanting to be treated with dignity and respect in a relationship. We’ll save that for another post.

As humans, we are conditioned to believe that our happiness is created by the fulfillment of our expectations. There isn’t anything wrong with this on a small scale, but when the expectations involve another person, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Why? Because not every person is going to be interested in living up to your expectations, and that is actually…healthy. Let’s look at it on a small scale.

If I expect my husband to make me a cup of coffee in the morning and he is focused on what he has planned for work that day, so he didn’t make it for me, I walk away from that situation from a mindset of lack. I wonder why he didn’t make me coffee and it turns into an expectation that I attach feeling slighted to. Whereas, if I walk into the kitchen with no expectations whatsoever, and he brings me over a cup of coffee, and am surprised and delighted.   

Overall, we have this idea that on some level we can control how others act. We have our expectations and our desired outcomes. What’s really crazy is that because we have them, we actually believe that the other person will understand it and do what we want. And when they don’t, we are shocked and become resentful. When you take a step back, it’s rather entitled, isn’t it? Why is it another person’s responsibility to do what I want them to do? It sure shouldn’t be.  

The reality is, we are all individuals and have our own priorities. We don’t mean to hurt the other person or make them feel bad. So how can we let go of expectations we may feel towards our partner?

1.) When you feel yourself expecting a certain reaction from them, stop yourself. Reframe it and tell yourself that you are totally open to the reactions of your partner.

2.) Understand why you have the expectations that you have and what it means. We often search for reassurance or security by our partners responding a certain way. And when they don’t, we attach more meaning to it than it warrants. A more effective way to address it, is to have a separate conversation about how you’re feeling.

3.) Build your own confidence and become unshakeable. When you know that you are a good person and that you behave with integrity, you don’t rely so much on external validation. You already feel it within yourself and you don’t take what other people do or don’t do as personally.

What expectations do you have in your life today that is causing your heartache?

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