“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations
and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
— Bruce Lee
The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations. This is especially true when it comes to our relationships and interactions with others.
Tempering your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both your life and theirs, and help you refocus on the things that truly matter.
Which means it’s time to…
1. Stop expecting them to agree with you.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that. You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours. In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else.
You have to dare to be yourself, and follow you own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success. Follow your own path and stay true to your own purpose. Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.
2. Stop expecting them to respect you more than you respect yourself.
True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it. Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself.
Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.” It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. When you practice self-love and self-respect, you give yourself the opportunity to be happy. When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and a better YOU. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Stop expecting (and needing) them to like you.
You might feel unwanted and unworthy to one person, but you are priceless to another. Don’t ever forget your worth. Spend time with those who value you. No matter how good you are to people, there will always be one negative person who criticizes you. Smile, ignore them, and carry on.
In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself. And as you’re fighting back, not everyone will like you. Sometimes people will call you names because you’re “different.” But that’s perfectly OK. The things that make you different are the things that make YOU, and the right people will love you for it.
4. Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are.
Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves. When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you can begin to appreciate THEM.
Pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be. We don’t know most people half as well as we believe we do; and truly knowing someone is a big part of what makes them wonderful. Every human being is remarkable and beautiful; it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it. The more you get to know someone, the more you will be able to look beyond their appearance and see the beauty of who they truly are. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
5. Stop expecting them to know what you’re thinking.
People can’t read minds. They will never know how you feel unless you tell them. Your boss? Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet. That cute guy you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy? Yeah, you guessed it, he hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given him the time of day either.
In life, you have to communicate with others regularly and effectively. And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words. You have to tell people what you’re thinking. It’s as simple as that.
6. Stop expecting them to suddenly change.
If there’s a specific behavior someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t. If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do.
For the most part though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try. Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them. It’s might sound harsh, but it’s not. When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they gradually change in the most beautiful way. Because what really changes is the way you see them. (Read A New Earth.)
7. Stop expecting them to be “OK.”
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, just like you. Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.
Remember that embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark. We are measured by our ability to overcome adversities and insecurities, not avoid them. Supporting, sharing and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards. This happens naturally if we allow it, because we all share very similar dreams, needs and struggles. Once we accept this, the world then is a place where we can look someone else in the eye and say, “I’m lost and struggling at the moment,” and they can nod and say, “Me too,” and that’s OK. Because not being “OK” all the time, is perfectly OK.
People rarely behave exactly the way you want them to. Hope for the best, but expect less. And remember, the magnitude of your happiness will be directly proportional to your thoughts and how you choose to think about things. Even if a situation or relationship doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.
What would you add to this post? What do you need to stop expecting from others? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Alex Berlin
I’m so happy that I came across this blog a few months ago!!! Not only is it positive and uplifting but it offers practical advice in an engaging manner.
One of my favorite things about your blog are the awesome quotes that you use as captions for the photographs. The above quote by Bruce Lee reminds me of another a short poem I came across recently called the “Gestalt Prayer” by Fritz Perls
“I do my thing and you do your thing.
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations
and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful
if not, it can’t be helped.”
Keep up the great work!!!
stop expecting people to agree with your idea of who YOU are.
I used to think all of this. But I realised that humans are small tribe creatures, and we do look for approval and acceptance no matter what our level of self-acceptance. Just look at our closest relatives, chimps. They spend all day either trying to fit into “the group” or being cold-shouldered. That’s how human politics started. That’s how relationships of all kinds started. That’s nature. So these days, I say, embrace your need to fit in. And find people who like what you like. Make friends through interests and not circumstance only.
Sue F says
I agree with your comment. We all want to be liked and approved of. This is part of the connection of being human. Families are like “tribes” and they all have their own rules and if you don’t go along with these then you are shamed and ostracized. Sometimes you need to find your own “tribe” and spend time with the people who really love and appreciate you for who you are.
Yes so true, and to add to your comment Sue, family can be any group of people or person who truly appreciate and are interested in your thoughts and felling and listen to you when you talk. My own family has turned out to be a clique and I’m not welcome there because I’m not ‘normal’. So I totally get you
These are good points. It has taken me a long time to learn to love and respect myself because I was around a lot of people who were always (destructively) critical of me. I know what everyone on this blog is going to say, it is not about what people like or don’t like about me. Another thought that I just came across is when we put labels on people, I think that we forget to show and take a real interest in that person. Some examples of labels that I was always around is Christian (when in church), troublemaker, student. lazy, just to name a few. I think that labeling people on any level is counterproductive, depending on how it is used. If labels are used on a critical level, it will be a losing battle for everyone.
Throughout my life I was always expected to please everyone, but we will never be able to do that so I no longer waste my time trying. One of the hard lessons that I have learned in my life is that people who always put expectations on my or have always criticized me never took the time to know who I am as a person.
Ashleigh C says
This article had me in tears. This is something I struggle with a lot in my life, and as the years go on and the more I learn about these things written in the article I try and remind myself of them, really to make it a way of life. Recently Ive been struggling with the lack of over all support from my family and friends while I am in this process of following a dream ( Traveling to Volunteer), and I seem to get into tears because I am expecting them to be as excited about my trip as I am. I am expecting them to show support because I feel like its lacking, and I just end up angry and disappointed. So reading this article today touched me very deeply, for it feels much healthier and satifying to follow these “rules” than allow myself to get all angry and hurt ( which just ends up pushing people away, because I become a bully and try and “make” them do what I want haha) It seems to be a struggle trying to stay positive, hopeful, kind, compassionate, and true to myself and feelings ( and sticking up for them!) but not expecting things from other people and not allowing other people to control my emotions because their actions let me down. This article says it so beautifully. Thank you!
Lauren B says
I can totally relate to your posting Ashleigh C 🙂 ! I am the exact same way as you, I expect people to react the same way that I would if they did or said something to me. For example: If a friend told me they weren’t feeling well I would say to them, “Sorry, to hear that I hope you feel better soon,”. Now, if I were to tell a friend that I didn’t feel well and they didn’t say anything back to me, it would make me feel like they didn’t care about me. So, therefore I am expecting that friend to say the same thing back to me as I would them. Did this article help you change your expectations at all? Just curious.
I share the same kind of feelings. It feels sad not to have the support of the one you look up to, especially when it comes to your families and close friends. Even more, their disapproval and rejection hurts a lot. I have been struggling with this for a long time and I come to an understanding that the more I expect more of ( love, support and kindness) the more my pain multiplies. So, I was convinced that I had to embrace their views positively and become less judgemental. By the time their deeds hurts me, I remind myself of all the good things they did to me. By the time they try to hurt me emotionally and belittle me, I try to calm my self and try to be kind and loving and remind them how good they are to me. We are emotional beings and crave for care and appreciation of all close to us even if we seen not to care, but if we perceive every negative perspectives with more positive attitude we might not tie our emotional well being on external source.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I added value to my life.
I am 56 and still not getting this right !! I move around a lot and expect that when I move family will adore having me round and want to spend time with me! I want them to take a stupid amount of interest in my life when even I am not happy with it. I expect them to agree with my views even though that would bore me rigid. I expect them not to be moody or unhappy when I am around and remember to contact me when I don’t make that much effort myself! I lost my parents as a teenager and my ex left me for someone younger after 22 years; so in reality rejection has been part of my life since I was aged 11 or 12………..I really ought to be used to that feeling of ‘being let down.’
Depression makes things even harder and so does living alone. I am also jobless with no friends so that feeling seems to multiply!
In all honesty its hard to not have any expectations in life but reality tells us that life is seldom ever going to be as one would like it to be and so we better get used to enjoying the simple things in life.! And if we promise ourselves to do something then we better do it; because in reality no one else can do it for us. I believe that most of us who expect too much from others; are not living fulfilling lives or doing what we truly want to do; so we should get on and do it and gain fulfillment from our promises to ourselves.
So maybe blaming others for whatever is lacking is just a cop out ‘for what we are not doing for ourselves’ in the end.
Lets stop making excuses! Myself included!!
PS sorry if I’ve repeated myself11 LOL
I like this article. “Hope for the best, but expect less” is powerful and encapsulates everything….and prepares us for the real world. Having expectations and wanting others to live up to them surely sets us up for many disappointments. Not expecting anything from anyone other than hopefully respect which isn’t always guaranteed, can make one feel very alone in this world but it is a realistic view to realize that not everyone will want to like us. People are very complex beings, and friends are sometimes enemies in disguise.
I thought about your last line and how it works in reverse too! A lot of my best friends started as enemies because we judged each other too fast, or misjudged each other’s actions and expected this or that from one another.
Juanita Roberts says
Love your insight. So totally true. We are all different, if we were not, we would all wear glassess, forest gump legs, etc. You get my point. Kindness, and love are the teo most important feelings in the universe. I remember something my mother still tells me even today. She’s 88. It had nothing to do with money or material things, even though today, people can’t be happy if you can’t pay your bills. So, getting back to her. It’s important to be happy. She would tell me, you’re as happy as you want to be when you wake up every morning.. you have to choose to be happy, the rest will follow. AND ALWAYS PAY IT FORWARD. MAKE SOMEONE ELSE’S DAY…. THX
Alcira Rocha says
I have a very hard problem with expecting too much of myself and others. My mom was very very strict and expected way too much out of me cause I was the oldest, had too watch my sister and brothers. I was also a kid who suffered from child abuse/ torture. So know I really have a hard time, thank God hes helping me. This was very encouraging to read this, it really has made me think and help myself out. Thanks so much!
I’m so sorry- I have a very similar story. We can figure this life thing out 🙂
Louneva Robinson says
For starters I’m very greatful to have came across this article. I’m in a very difficult period in my life with wishing and hoping others would understand how I think and feel. Well let’s just say no one seems to understand me or appreciate me or at least show me that they do. I have come to the conclusion that it is because I am expecting them to be like me and well no one is like ME. I love to help others and even go out of my way to get things done for others. Sometimes though I get very angry and upset when others don’t care about my needs or even offer any assistance to me. It has taken me forever to realize that I am creating my own misery and unhappiness, I haven’t ever wanted to accept that I am Expecting too much from others. Because I felt what I was expecting should be what people do for others on their own and that is clearly not the case. I’m not changing who I am because I know GOD has me here on earth as a helping hand but I will stop letting the emotions of being let down by others affect my life. When you realize no one is loosing any sleep over your issues it really puts things into perspective.
Wow! This is me all day long. It’s good to know that I am not alone in these thoughts and feelings. I sometimes think I’m going crazy, but now I know I’ve just got to let it go. Thanks for responding.
Kathy S says
wow! I came home from a family gathering today so upset at some of the things my mom said to me…and I’m 56 yrs old. So as I’m voicing this disapointment to my husband, he could care less, his way of dealing with the hurt is for me to say “the hell with you” and not go visit with family. Yet another disapointment from my “loved” ones. Really? am I the one who is crazy for expecting more from others?
I loved your reply, but I don’t know how to live like that. any suggestions? I know the world is made up of different kinds of people, but the ones that are closest to me don’t seem to appreciate my thinking, and I thought that’s what they loved about me…
Have you read anything about codependency and “caregiver” attributes? People who give and give and give and rarely receive anything in return? Might be worth reading about if you haven’t, there are a lot of people in the same situation and lots of good advice for living a fulfilling life for yourSELF and not only living to serve others. Cheers!
M. Campbell says
“In the morning Lord, you hear my voice, in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”
As we go through life we learn how to deal with the ups & downs. I like to share my wisdom with the younger folks that we all have a story to tell of moments when we thought the world was going to end. No matter what we go through one thing is for sure “This too shall pass.” Learn something from it, if you don’t it may come back to give another lesson. There are no losers, everyone wins something. Listen to that inner compass we each have inside us it will guide you. Thoughts become things, choose the good ones.
Emotions and the relationships make us blind some times and that is the reason we expect. In situations where i feel i have not been accepted , i step out and see from their perspective and give time for them to come out of the emotions and then discuss my point of view. Some times this helps ! At the end , it is living with family and friends!
Shilpa Jagtap says
You are doing a great job!! Whenever I read your articles it feels as if you are addressing my problems and troubles. Your words have great power and above that its all truth that you speak. Thanks for such wonderful articles that help me grow into a good human being.I wish you all the happiness. Cheers 🙂
This is so true I used to be so codependent and expect others to join me in my beliefs, activities etc or I’d join them in relationships. I did this once with someone that was worse than ever and I’m so sorry. If God could figure me I’d be so grateful. Pkease.
I’m currently in a relationship with a wonderful man who’s dealing with getting custody of his teenage children. My children are grown and don’t need Mom. So I have all of this free time and I want to spend time with this person , go on adventures etc. He works full time ( a good thing ) and has work outside of that as well as a hobby his passionate about. A well rounded person – although quite busy. When we’re together, I feel loved and cherished and we have similar values.
The very things I admire about him, leave me home alone quite often. His family comes first. He’s a hard worker and knows what makes him happy. He’s never met a stranger, etc etc.
So who has the problem. I find myself resentful ….and I don’t want to be. I don’t want him to be different. I wouldn’t want him to walk away from his children for example. Or stop working. I find myself full of self talk – thinking of letting him go…….bc we’re just not in the same place in our life. I feel like another responsibility for him sometimes. When things came to a head with his children and their mother, I suggested we slow things down. Maybe I was testing him – wondering what his response would be……….He really wants this relationship to work. We both invested quite some time. And we love each other.
This post really helps me STOP and think. I can find my own joys and adventures without sacrificing my relationship with him. Love is freedom.
In life, don’t expect anything from anyone. Because expectation, when not fulfilled, gives you pain. When you get something without expecting it, It’s gives you pleasure. Keep doing your part and leave the rest to God..
Thank you for sharing with us!