“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”
— Brandon Sanderson
Holding on to expectations of other people is very different from holding people accountable for their behavior. The former will keep you spinning in circles, have you end up empty-handed, and keep you frustrated and bitter. The latter will keep people off of your mind, frees you to tell the truth, and keeps you from becoming overwhelmed and shortchanged.
You should always hold people accountable for what they do and don’t do, but you should never hold so tightly to your expectations of them. Whether we realize it or not, expectations influence our lives in more ways than one. While we should hold on to expectations that serve a good purpose, be aware that most of our expectations, especially of other people, are flawed and often distort our interpretations of reality.
Here are 3 ways to stop disappointing yourself when it comes to people:
1. Stop being disappointed when people display petty, tit-for-tat behavior.
It’s pretty easy to recognize petty and childish behavior in people but it is not as easy to deal with them. People who display this kind of behavior are often insecure or have trust issues and do not see any other way to live life besides being manipulative and trying to control people by passive-aggressive behavior and vindictive attitudes and actions. Some people deal with this type of behavior by giving in. They let the person have what they want, give the person what they demand even if they know it is not good for them, and essentially allow that person to control their life. We don’t realize it but when we do this, we are only enabling that person to keep up the petty, childish behavior.
Don’t become disappointed when you encounter this behavior. However, you do need to refuse to fight back against this type of person. You have a life to live and you deserve to live it with peace and purpose. Allowing people to bring you down physically, mentally and emotionally will only leave you frustrated, fed-up and irritated. If you retaliate with a similar type of foolish behavior, you only validate the other person and enable him or her to continue. Don’t be disappointed in the behavior, but don’t allow it to become so normal that it becomes the standard. Your life is much bigger and much better than settling for the type of petty behavior that someone else is putting down.
2. Stop being disappointed when people don’t fit into your personal guidelines.
The one freedom all of us have is to be who we are. Loving and respecting people means that we accept them for who they are, without conditions or stipulations. Love and respect know no boundaries. This isn’t a job application or an admissions decision or a vote in the Senate or the House. You love and respect people whether they fit your guidelines or not. All you have to do is be human to deserve and receive love and respect. When you stop expecting people to fit into your guidelines, you can begin to love, respect, and truly appreciate them for who they are, not for who you want them to be.
We like to think we know people well, but the truth is, we don’t know the people we think we know half as much as we have tricked ourselves into believing we do. There is some good in every person. Some people, however do not know how to bring out their goodness or allow themselves to just be good. If you shed the preset perceptions that you have of people, you can be the person who does not get disappointed by what people do and who they are, and instead bring out the remarkableness and incredibleness that is present in every human being. People put up safeguards and walls to protect themselves from being hurt. You do the same thing and you will never know exactly how people are until you let them be who they are and accept them just like that.
3. Stop being disappointed when people don’t change the way you want them to.
Let’s face it: There are people in our lives who sometimes display unfavorable behaviors and as much as we talk to them about it, set up interventions, and wish for it to stop or go away, it more than likely won’t happen. Why? It’s not always because that person doesn’t want to change but it is more that change takes time. Sometimes it takes a little time, other times it take a lot of time, and in several cases, it never happens. Change is almost never instant. Drug addicts or chronic alcoholics do not kick their habits overnight just like obsessive workaholics and chronic procrastinators do not change their behaviors in one day.
If you really need a behavior to change in order for a relationship or business deal to work, put everything on the table and politely but firmly ask for the person to make changes. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get what you want. The hardest job in the world is trying to change people and you should not waste your time or energy at this job. Accept who they are or move on. When you try to force people to change, the work eventually becomes counterproductive. People are more likely to stay the way they are if you are demanding they change. What really works is allowing them the freedom to be who they are, make mistakes, and sometimes fail and over time, they will eventually get tired of the struggle within and change — not because you forced them to, but because they want to or because staying the way they are is too great a burden to bear. Allow people the freedom and space to change.
“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
— Stephen Hawking