Avoid The Expectations Trap


If you REALLY loved me YOU would …. (Pick one or add your own!)

  • Do it my way
  • Take care of me the way I take care of you.
  • Stop being friends with people I don’t like.
  • Be miserable when I’m miserable.
  • Make me happy.
  • Be ready on time.
  • Never do things for yourself that you know will upset me.
  • Love my pets.

Two things are happening here, neither of them would be considered admirable character traits. But if it is you making these statements – go easy on yourself – you’re only human. The same is true if it is your spouse, partner or a family member.

Every day we set expectations in our own minds about what will happen at some time in the future. Frequently, for those expectations to be met, we further expect that some other player - husband, wife girlfriend, parent, son – will unknowingly behave in exactly the manner they should to fulfill our expectations. We’ve set a trap in which both parties are now ensnared!

What do we do when our expectations are not met? Too often our now wounded-self will resort to overt and covert ways of trying to control the other person’s behavior. How do we do this? Again, pick one or add your own.

  • Yelling
  • Pouting
  • Hitting
  • Insults
  • Incessant talking
  • Criticizing or judging
  • Demanding
  • Becoming ill
  • Nagging
  • Threatening
  • Getting “uppity”
  • Blaming
  • Crying
  • Bribing
  • The silent “ice” treatment

The ideal approach to assuring our needs are met is in learning to express those needs to others in a loving and respectful manner. Our feelings of self-worth and esteem come from within ourselves not from others. Controlling behavior typically results in creating more of the problems we are trying to prevent. 



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