We eventually learn to form our own expectations of how people should act. Expectations aren't inherently evil; we all have them. They are an unavoidable part of life. The issue emerges when we place too much weight on the expectations of others, to the point that we begin to live for their approval. That is when things go wrong.
Expecting others to meet our standards is only natural. If we were not to expect something of them, then why would they try hard enough? However, if we expect too much from others, they will feel burdened by these expectations and might even try to avoid meeting them. This is not good for anyone involved.
So, what should you do? Should you just give up your expectations of others? Of course not! It's okay to have hopes for the people in your life. Just be aware that if you place too much hope on others, they may not be able to handle it and abandon you when you need them most.
However, if we want to conduct well, we should do it because we enjoy it rather than because we anticipate something in return. Having expectations of others might sometimes imply holding them accountable for our pleasure. We condition our enjoyment on their activities, so we grow reliant on their responses. When they fail to meet our expectations, we feel deflated and are less likely to repeat the behavior that caused us pain in the first place.
Expecting someone to act a certain way based on what you hope they will do is called "requiring" them to behave in a specific manner. This happens when you ask someone to do you a favor and they don't do it, or when you give them money and they spend it on alcohol instead of groceries. In both cases, you have expected them to behave in a way that they may not have intended to behave.
People tend to behave in accordance with how they see themselves as part of a group. If everyone in a group expects someone else in the group to do something, that person is more likely to follow through on their commitment. This is why friends often have similar expectations of each other, and why groups of people often unite behind one leader. Groups use identity markers such as gender, age, religion, race, and income to define who will do what parts of a task. For example, if there are three people available to carry a heavy load, people will usually divide up the work according to gender stereotypes.
Expectations impact how we think and behave, as well as how others react to us—all of which influences what occurs in our lives. The more positive or negative our expectations, the greater their influence over our life experiences.
For example, if you expect to lose at chess, you won't put much effort into learning how to play. If you expect to win, however, it will motivate you to study harder and learn new strategies.
Similarly, if you expect to get a good grade on an exam, you'll work harder to prepare for it. But if you expect a low score, you may decide not to try at all.
Our beliefs about what will happen in life affect how we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. For example, if you believe the world is a dangerous place, you might avoid going out at night or walking down dark streets. This would be true even if there was no real reason to be afraid.
On the other hand, if you have confidence in your ability to protect yourself, you can relax and have fun while being careful not to put yourself in dangerous situations.
Our beliefs also influence what happens in our lives.
First, put on your oxygen mask. The first step in letting go of expectations is to be kind to yourself. Change your way of thinking. You have no control over what people think of you, but you can choose how you speak to yourself. Raise your hand. Liberate yourself and others. Stop judging and anticipating. Clear your mind of expectations.
Second, don't expect everyone to live up to their words. Many people promise things they cannot deliver. Others say one thing and do another. Some people are just hard to get along with. That's why it's important to know the true nature of all beings. We should never claim to know someone else's mind without their consent. Whatever mental state someone is in, we shouldn't assume they want us to feel that way about them.
Third, don't hold people to too high of standards. It's easy to look down on others who seem less fortunate than ourselves. But if we really wanted to help them, we'd stop focusing on what they can't do and instead focus on what they can do. Don't expect others to make perfect decisions all the time. Allow them the freedom to grow and change as they see fit.
Fourth, don't take people at their word. We need to learn to trust but verify. If someone says they love you but doesn't show it by their actions, then it's best to find out for yourself how much they care.