“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
Wow, all of this are really powerful. Some of them I’m still struggling to remember today while others I barely just got over.
#3 is something I have to remind myself on a daily basis. There are going to be people out there who won’t like you. Don’t let it affect you and don’t allow it bring you down. Enjoy the moment and the people who already love you. You don’t have to win everyone over.
Your posts always seem to fit what’s going on in my world. Thank you. You have helped me out in some tough times and through some though decisions.
So true. We’re not here to live up to each other’s expectations, we’re here to live up to our own expectations.
I struggle with this. I often find myself expecting my loved ones to do what I would do, or react the way I would react, in certain situations… and when they don’t I get frustrated.
Thank you for the reminders. You’re keeping me in check, it a good way.
Wow, these points are very powerful, all 7 of them. I can’t think of anything that could be a stronger reminder to this. But basically, I remind myself of 2 things every day:
1. Never forget your worth, self-respect, and purpose.
2. Never judge someone unless you’ve walked 1000 miles in their shoes. Always attempt to understand where they are coming from and where they are going.
Christy King says
Stop expecting perfection. Everyone goofs up.
Go ahead and be upset about the mistake, but forgive quickly.
Naheed Naim says
Respecting yourself is the most important point in my view. Mostly we forget our self while paying attention to others demands. If you do not give enough importance to yourself then no one else is going to respect or value you enough either. You should honestly be the most valued person in your life.
Anders Hasselstrøm says
Marc and Angel,
Thanks for another great post. Always a pleasure following you.
Over the past few years I have come to realize how much harm expectations can bring into relationships. I’m the kind of person who gives 100% of me to a relationship, which is why I used to expect people to do the same. However, experiencing that people sometimes do not live up to the expectations bring about negative feelings. For that reason I’m careful in what I expect from people.
Expectations are nothing more than Premeditated Resentments.
Wow! Thank you:) I see myself doing all of these things in my relationship with my husband, even when I don’t mean to. It’s like I am on auto pilot… Thank you for giving me something positive to work on
Mark Whittington says
More awesome insights into codependency! Thanks guys!
Excellent point and good reminder that you can’t mold someone to be who you want them to be or think they should be. If you must, walk away from people in your life who aren’t on the same page as you. May be you need a break. Or may be you need to seek out like-minded individuals. It’s not uncommon to grow a part from someone. That’s life.
Jeeha to everyone & THANKS to Angel & Marc!
I learned this wisdom from my dear father from an early age & never gave up practicing ! Reminding myself each day : don’t expect others to tatata…all A. & M. mention really works; helps us to forgive, accept, be compassionate, loving/lovable, respectful, soulful, kind, gentle, etc. towards ourselves & others!
Go for it & reap the tremendous BENEFITS for ALL,
Love Sue x
I love #6. And #5 goes hand in hand with it. Communication and acceptance work well together. Thank you.
Great words to ponder-thank you. I have to really work on number 3. That is a struggle for me.
I would add the following:
Stop expecting others to ‘play fair’ or ‘do the right thing’. Your morals and ethics often will not be the same as other people.
Wise thoughts. We all struggle with our expectations of others.
I would add: You have control over your feelings, so practice tempering your expectations while distributing your time and attention accordingly to those who deserve the best of you.
It’s interesting to realize that to master such simple concepts for our relationships often takes many of us a lifetime.
This was a very timely reminder for me. I’ve been struggling with a few self-esteem issues lately and this was just what I needed to hear.
This is an excellent article! Sadly, it resonates too deeply with me personally.. I expected too much from my best friend, a fellow coder I grew up doing almost everything with. As children we would always talk about how we were going to start a business together. I started my company and I could not get him to do anything with me. I later found out that those I tried to work with that were “friends” were secretly envious and would not dare take the spotlight off themselves, even if it was to work with a great friend at an awesome start-up. Unless is was THEIR start-up, God forbid they couldn’t be “the guy”.
Lesson learned, don’t put your faith in “friends” like that. People are like this, and you will have to be prepared for the “haters” and those who do not want to see you in a better position than themselves (living your dream). Thank you for this.
“Premeditated Resentments.” That’s so perfect, it’s hilarious! I’ll be using that one.
Tatianas Friend says
I would add:
1. Stop expecting to respond they way you want them to. – Some people do favors/actions hoping to get the same in return. That is not the case.
2. Stop expecting people to love they way you love. – We may all love with the same intensity, we all show it differently, accepting this will make your relationships work (but it has to be on both sides…)
I really, really love your posts and advice – so glad I found them/you – such great reminders of seemingly small but really so powerful thoughts. Every single item on the list resonates; relationships, family, friends, co-workers, bosses… I can apply to all aspects of my life in a very positive way – thank you again so much!!!
David Rapp says
I would also add that these can be seen in reverse as well.
Stop expecting to agree with everyone else
Stop expecting to respect yourself more than others
Stop expecting to like everything you have to do
Stop expecting more from yourself just because someone else does
Stop trying to be a mind reader
Stop expecting to suddenly change yourself
Stop expecting to be “OK” all the time
Stop expecting them to be honest…
Especially just because they go to church, etc.
These are all great for reflection and meditation and also seeing what fits. My only caution is that when I was in my 20-s – early 30s I. wanted to pursue my passion, live with my boyfriend, become a famous artist that could pay the bills and not just live on Gov. Assistance. I put a holding pattern in my life for a decade. Not a good or mature plan. My parents and family’s had great insight I should have taken to heart… stay in school, learn to live as a whole person before moving in and becoming co-dependent to another. The notion that Do what You love and the wealth or $$ will follow is sort of a trap for many that is mired as being selfish, not self care necessarily, and expecting the universe to support and agree with your plan. I love the idea od reducing expectation from others… but sometimes I think self-centeredness must be looked at too.
Another great post. These all seem to hit home.
#2, need to respect myself more
#3, need to love myself more
#7, everyone is “ok” – not really, so many people put on a happy face but suffer inside alone.
I would add that every one of the comments that people leave help us all in some different way. Thank you all for positive feedback.
Mary Jane Allen says
Great post you two!! 🙂 Number 5 is so important and many have trouble with it. I’m a telepath so I actually can read minds, but it has taken me a while to keep reminding myself that we are all different and NO most people can’t read my mind. Now I speak my truth, it’s so much easier!
Love and Blessings to all,
Ms Hanson says
Every day, I tell my significant other that I love him just the way he is… and although he understands the principle of acceptance, he cannot yet utter those words to me. MMS.
Julia SB says
This is so profound, as usual! And the guy who said it’s ‘premeditated resentment’ is absolutely right. Thanks for the light you bring to us with your posts.
Advice I needed today, especially the part about opening your mouth. As I’m typically shy, it’s hard to connect with others even when I want to. Smiling and speaking up would help!
There is a lot of good info in this post.
I have been learning a lot of these myself the hard way lately. Expectation is one of the biggest obstacles to our happiness and that of those around us. Without a doubt, though I would say that rather than expecting less of others, we should try and live in the now as much as we can, enjoying everything as it comes and having no expectation (not living in the future).
Easier said than done though, but well worth the effort!
LOVED the last two sentences of #6!
Chris @ AHL says
Great article. I can totally relate to #3 right now and need to stop caring so much if certain people like me. We can’t please everyone, all the time and one-way relationships are just too exhausting. As I get older, I don’t want to put that much energy into a relationship that isn’t giving anything back or, worse, taking too much emotionally. Would rather put the extra energy and time to better use.
Very powerful! Great advice and insight! Guilty of all seven.
Jay Two says
Wow!!! Number five is very, very accurate in my life right now… good advice!
Melissa Webster says
Gabriel, I’ve been there. It’s probably worse when it’s a friend, because there’s that irrational sense of betrayal too. Which also feeds into #3. We expect our friends to “get” us and support and like us, whatever we’re doing. It sadly doesn’t always work that way.
Have you considered going the solopreneur route? That’s what I had to do, and though it wasn’t what I really wanted, I feel really good about it. It’s better than all the emotional drama at any rate.
Marc & Angel,
This is an awesome post! It resonated with me more than I expected and found myself nodding at every point.
I would also add: Stop expecting others to keep their words.
Just because I keep mine doesn’t mean I should expect others to do the same. By giving up expecting others to deliver what they promised, I save myself and others a lot of grief.
I wish I had read this post earlier. But it is so precious and worthwhile… for preserving all the important relations in my life.
Kristina Schwende says
This post was very timely for me. I have spent most of my life trying to change myself and the people around me. I am finally learning how to accept people as they are – to treat them as I want to be treated. But it’s a process. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I think the biggest problem is that many us don’t truly ourselves! You can’t give away what you don’t have. You can’t accept people as they are if you can’t accept yourself as you are.
I totally resonate with this!
Expectation, in essence, is attachment and therefore distraction in disguise – attachment to the outcome and therefore distraction from one’s uniqueness of Being and the beauty and simplicity of being fully present in the ‘Now’. Neither needs approval, validation or modification.
We are all constantly called by these to reconnect with our amplified vibrational Essence which is always enough, always perfect, always exactly where it needs to be at any given moment. Herein lies the immense freedom of detachment and trust.
Excellent article. The things we expect in life are often tied to our past experiences. We expect someone to act a certain way because of what we have seen, done, known… The problem is that, no matter how well we know this person, their experiences and perceptions differ from ours. Their context differs from ours. You can never fully predict or understand someone else’s behavior. Just accept and love them for who they are. You may even learn something new as a result.
Byron Dormire says
Thx Marc and Angel,
Each step you describe seems interdependent and refreshingly complimentary to the rest. Loving yourself transcends to loving others and this can shed the fears of rejection by them toward us, and lighten the burden of our impossible expectations we have on those we love.
In #4, you say, “…Respect people for who they are and not for whom you want them to be.” Our self-imposed needs and wants may not be what ‘they’ want or need at all. Some lovers may have had at one time the union from Heaven, but things change and people do too. Respecting that fact helps each of us adjust to these new conditions in our life and hopefully it’s all for the best.
In #7, you write, “Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.” This is such a true and considerate thought. When we struggle because we think others could use ‘our help’ to solve ‘their troubles’, they may not want or need our help at all. Or, they may just want and need to figure out life for themselves. That’s often very difficult for us to accept, but it’s what we need to endure to move forward in our own positive way. If we can gain an understanding that they ‘love us for who we are’, not just our idea of how their love for us should be, then we might find our way back to a confident and loving relationship together. Sometimes in life we may need to simply settle into the bitter-sweet memory of what we once had with another – as beautiful and heartfelt as it was – but move on to a new and loving relationship instead.
Absolutely love this post — spot on — can’t think of anything else to add but love the first point. You really can’t expect people to agree with you and in return when people disagree you should never take it to heart or personally. At the very least we owe it to others to listen and to understand where they’re coming from.
The absolute perfect reminder! This was just the swift kick in the bum that I needed today! I appreciate your posts immensely & have been following you since the beginning 🙂 Have a wonderful day.
Love this post and it came to me at the most perfect time. I had a breakthrough the other day about needing to change myself rather than my ex and father of our unborn child. He is a drug addict. The more I resist him partying, the more he does it. The more I try to influence his thinking the more degrading he is to me. Realizing that I don’t want our daughter to see him treat me like a doormat because I never demanded the respect I deserve from him when I didn’t know better is forcing me fo look at myself in the mirror and start my journey of recovery from codependency.
I no longer want to ride this rollercoaster heading to disaster because I see now that loving myself is only going to help me get out of this funk and set up a solid healthy foundation for my daughter and I with or without the father. I used to hate him, but now I only feel compassion and empathy. If he asks me to help him sober up one day I will be there. I will know better to set healthy boundaries and allow him to get better with my encouragement. If he remains the same, I will pray for him, and be happy that his time in my life was to teach me to treat myself better and for my most beautiful blessing-our daughter. Thank you Marc and Angel for validating with your post that I am on track to ny higher self. Aloha.
jonscott williams says
I would add:
“Stop putting things off … today is yesterday’s tomorrow.”
My addition: Stop judging as one never really knows who and what they are judging
Brian Madigan says
Great post Marc. It’s so important for us to be aware that the people around us are suffering, and struggling, and changing, just like we are. One thing I’d add, is to roll with it, be supportive, when someone we care about is making sudden, positive, changes in their life. It can be frightening to watch someone we love move at lightening speed to somewhere else. But, life is change. Thanks.
Marc Chernoff says
@Vincent: This is something I still struggle with too. I’ve always been a people-pleaser, and at times it has really drained me. Like you, I’m getting better.
@Dev and Dave Street: Agreed. Keeping our expectations of our loved ones at a reasonable level is vital to our most important relationships
@Nicky: Excellent additions. Thanks. I strongly believe that attempting to understand others is the key.
@Christy King: Quick forgiveness is always the best first step.
@Naheed Naim: You got it. You have to respect yourself first.
@Anders: Thanks for sharing a small piece of your story with us.
@Glen: As others have said, excellent perspective. Thank you.
@Amandah: Yep. That’s a point Angel and I are constantly advocating.
@Jan and Nila: Good point. Not everyone is going to play fair just because you do. Hope for the best, but expect less – that’s my motto.
@Dionisio: I love the idea of refocusing our energy into loving deeds.
@Gabriel: Perhaps there is a way to give them partial ownership – like stock options. Just a thought.
@David Rapp: I love the reversal. Insightful point.
@Jean: I think one word sums it up: Balance. We must find the balance between our expectations and our personal responsibilities.
@Betsy: I’ll second your remark on everyone’s comments. Every one of us has valuable insights based on our own life experiences. The more we share here, the more we learn. (Every time I read and respond to comments, I gather new ideas for future posts too.)
@Ms Hanson: That’s sweet. Unconditional love.
@Gavriel: I couldn’t agree more with your point about presence. This is something I help others with often – finding their presence. The more we live in the present, the less we need to be happy.
@Kristina Schwende: “You can’t accept people as they are if you can’t accept yourself as you are.” – Spot on! I love it!
@Vanessa: Beautifully stated. Thank you.
@Byron Dormire: Thank you for the wise additions. I love your point about letting go of our expectations of how we think someone else is “supposed” to love us. They can only love us the way THEY love.
@Lei: Thank you for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you. Stay strong and check back in with us. It sounds to me like your mind is in a beautiful place right now – a place where a bright future is possible.
@Brian Madigan: Truth. We all have our own lives to live, and we must let those we care about live THEIR lives, even when we don’t agree.
@All: As always, THANK YOU for giving me something to think about. Angel and I truly appreciate the time you take to share your insights and stories with us.
@jonscott williams “today is yesterday’s tomorrow” – just looove that!
@david rapp Love those reversals! Those are so powerful too! Thanks for pointing that out!