“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
Love this “stop expecting…” list, Marc and Angel! They all resonate!
I’d add “stop expecting not being good enough” (and start seeing the plenty-ness we are instead.) And “stop expecting others to be better, smarter, more beautiful, …” (and start seeing how awesome, smart, beautiful, … we are too.)
I would add, ” my opinion doesn’t matter” I learned this in the late stage of my lover’s life and wished I had understood it sooner. When I could take my opinion out of the equation, I began to see and understand him. RIP Greg.
Nice one! And so true.
Jaime Mayoral says
Don’t expect others to do as you do or think as you think. Having expectations can quickly lead to disappointment. Disappointment can lead to negativity and negativity to resentment. Only expect to be yourself, and let others be them self. Expectations are a form of control, we don’t have control over anyone or anything but ourself.
Start treating yourself better and funny enough others start treating you better!
Del (Tigerlady) says
“I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”
I love this affirmation and intend to use it daily, thanks for that. I have been told that if you say affirmations in front of a mirror, you will gradually see your eyes change.
‘…Choose to love them for who they are or choose to live without them…’
Awesome write up as usual. Every day one of your articles helps me see the light a little more.
kat kenner says
I would only add; Stop expecting people to change when you do, or grow when you do. If you start exercising and lose weight, don’t expect your friends and co-workers to follow suit. If you quit drinking, dont expect your friends to jump on the wagon with you. If you read a gazillion self help books and forgive all the wrongs in your past and make peace with your demons, don’t expect others to be able to at the same rate and pace. Grow an be yourself and let others be who they are, when they are that person.
This article is completely true. The funny thing is, most people spend 80% of the time worrying about what the other person thinks of them… but the other person is too worried of what you think of them to notice anything about you! It’s a never ending circle.
Michael Feeley says
You encourage personal bravery – courage – fortitude in this wonderful post. Thank you…I’m always moved by your writing.
Hi Marc and Angel,
I need to practice all the points except the 3rd one. I hope I remember all because I am sure that it will make me a way better person than I am today.. Thank you for sharing the life changing article 🙂
I need to stop expecting people to be as kind & respectful to me as I am to them!! I expect this wayyyy too much & then when they aren’t capable of returning it to me, I feel completely crushed & then I start to make myself believe that I’m unworthy of anything good and that there has GOT to be something wrong with ME!!
Barb C. says
Not sure who said this, but I absolutely love it:
“Never compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 25.”
Thanks, this is a great post and really makes you explore the reasons behind many assumptions people make of others.
Thank you Marc & Angel for these thoughts & an additionally, thanks for the inspiration from others who’ve posted replies <3
Theresa, you virtually took the words right out of my mouth, I am the same. I am really trying to change my view, but honestly, it’s a struggle & so far, I’m not winning. I’ve just turned 24, so hope with maturity, things might improve…then I think ‘leopards & spots’ :S
Good luck everyone 🙂 x
I’m having a hard time today because of expectations and people around me doing stupid things. But I try to remind myself that the less I interfere the more quickly they will experience consequences. I am also challenged with negative feelings and not allowing them to manifest into negative behaviors. It’s so hard!!! I just want to rip someone’s head off! But instead I pray, “Dear Lord. I cannot do this alone. Please help me remember what I can and cannot control and give me strength to get through today without hurting someone. Amen.”
What I feel I also must do is to stop “expecting things”… I use people as a mirror. Recently, I was watching my friend do this and it is so frustrating to watch. Now I can see how I get frustrated when people don’t do what I was thinking they should do.
Thanks for this post! Really enlightened me. More power!
I cried so hard before I came across this article…I totally agree with this statement,”Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself”. I promise to love me. Thanks for sharing
I love the comment the the biggest battle is the battle to be yourself. I have wanted to be me all of my life and you know what, I am going to be me. This may be the fuel that I have needed. The good people that have helped me, things like this and me will be the reason. Thanks
Lois Szydlowski says
I am so guilty of trying to get people to be differently so I will feel better…instead of just feeling better and accepting myself for who I am…thanks so much.
Thanks so much for this article. I recently discovered that I have high expectations of myself and others. This article and the comments that followed have inspired me to try to limit my expectations of others. I have decided for the next 10 days that I won’t expect anything of anyone which will be a dramatic shift for me. In thinking about it, most people in my life are pretty great and why should I burden myself and them with expectations. I like Glen’s quote about premeditated resentment being the same as expectations.
I will post back and let you know how it goes. Thanks!
“Observe how someone treats other people. It is the best prediction of how they will end up treating you someday.”
Juanita Roberts says
See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil. Keep your mouth shut before opening it to insult someone. And wherever you go and whoever you may be with, remember: low expectations, low expectations, low expectations. You will save yourself and others a lot of pain and sorrow.
The hardest things I’ve found in life are:
1. Being myself if that means I’m different – but I want to believe that it’s okay to be my unique self (even if that means I’m different) – I need to be the person I am made to be (even if I’m told I’m different).
2. Taking criticism which I find unfair or undermining – so what if someone has the opinion that I’m young for my age or I’m immature because it’s part of my character and who I am (I’m 50 years old) – if I grow up or act my age as people say I should, it would make me miserable and life is too short for that – I might as well do what makes me feel happy.
3. When I don’t get along with someone or someone doesn’t like me – I get along with most people but I get upset or feel bad when I find it hard to get along with someone – what would help me not to feel upset or bad if I don’t get along with a person? I go to church and Jesus was said to be the perfect man and look how cruelly he was put to death – this shows he was the perfect man yet he was despised, rejected and abused which happens to good people.
Well, I attempted to not have any expectations for 10 days. I saw my first result when I was talking to my friend. I have been trying to get my friend out of a recent funk. This time, I approached her by listening only and not trying to get her to see my point of view. It made our conversation and interaction so much better. I felt lighter and she was more open with me.
There were a number of times where I had to remind myself to stop expecting this or that. Removing expectations is frightening but it reinforced the point that the only control that I have is over myself. It didn’t create a clean slate but it helped me see where some of the disappointments of the past and present were coming from. I think that I was able to move away from some future disappointments when I stopped myself mid thought. My expectations were high so it was a great exercise for me. I recommend giving it a shot if anything that I am saying resonates with you.
I think we need to stop expecting that others will make changes to their behavior just because you asked them to. Sometimes this is the case, and sometimes they will try, but sometimes for reasons of their own, they’re stuck in being who and what they are. What you will then need to come to grips with is whether or not you’re able to tolerate both the situation you don’t like, as well as the awareness that no matter how much X matters to you, that doesn’t matter as much to them as staying stagnant does.
Stephen S. Herzog says
Stop expecting people to love the same way you love.
Interesting.. One comment that someone said is true. “Stop expecting others to treat you how you would treat them.” I think it was something like that. This turns the philosophy of treating others as you want to be treated completely on its head. Cause in actuality you can’t always expect people to return exactly what you give them.
I really needed this today.. Its often and easy to forget how to love yourself especially if you have someone in your life that makes you feel bad about yourself in some form or fashion on a daily basis. Unfortunately negativity is a sickness that can only be healed by the person who suffers from it. Patience is a virtue but only some of the time.
Merry Christmas everyone and God Bless 🙂
Wow this is absolutely amazing! Thank you Marc Chernoff for writing this! Keep it up!
These words brought tears to my eyes because to me it felt as though you were speaking to the hidden parts of my soul. I feel these things everyday and most times I feel alone so to see someone else bring these thoughts to life reminds me that I am not alone and that the expectations we have of others most times leads to our own unhappiness.
I needed this and it makes me a little happier.
Thanks for this. It is really good.
s. mcclure says
I had a co-worker that objected to everything I said or did and it kept me miserable…even saw a shrink and took a course on dealing with difficult people. Then I began teaching a course on customer relations and the lesson that “none of us are so important that another spends their time thinking of ways to push our buttons” gave me a mantra to deal with my own attitude toward her behavior. I was a lot happier.
Michelle Green says
Anything and Everything!
I stumbled across this site and glad I found it. I have a male best friend who I love very much, but he is a very difficult personality. I have learned the hard way that I have to stop being so wrapped up in his life when he really doesn’t seem concerned about mine as much as I am for his. Also I support and encourage him in business and personal successes and lows. Always happy for him, but I have to pull it out of him to show happiness for me when I have great life events or success. I have learned to try my best to not expect much in return from this person who I know loves me as a great friend. But it’s all about him where our friendship is concerned. Dominates a lot of it. I give a lot, but don’t get a lot. I always wonder if he is a narcissist of sorts. I just know I have to have the strength to pull back from him and maybe distance myself at times. Because I have a tendency to be to concerned with his life, and I know that he is living an alternate. So it’s time to spend a little more time concentrating on my own life and develop other friendships as well.
A mind. says
Nice article. Indeed don’t expect people to behave in a certain way. But I also think that you should expect people to behave in a specific way in a specific situation. If an individual is irate than be prepared for confrontation both mentally and physically. If you accidentally stepped on his/her toe and you said sorry you should expect two options: a. they are normal – they accept apology and because you are a stranger assume it to be unintentional. b. they are not normal and level headed – and from lack of self control/being caught on a bad day/having a low temper/may have a god complex… they become enraged and verbally or physically confront you. This much any individual should expect and be ready for. It’s simply humans reacting to their environment. You don’t have to tolerate it, but be ready for it.
Thank you very much for this article. It’s coming at the right time! I do appreciate this a lot. Amazing!!!
After reading this, I suddenly recalled something someone once told me, “Don’t make someone else your priority when they regard you as their ‘Option’!
You can never ‘win’ with people. People are dynamic, they have good days and bad days. They do great things one day, and the next they do things they are not proud of. Remember your own sense of self-worth must endure the bad times and remain grounded during the good. You are you, the others are part of your journey. Embrace it, and treat them with the respect they deserve for being there.
Carole Heath says
I agree with many of the comments on this site. I have experienced these type of problems myself in my life. I find that you have sometimes to except people the way they are if you feel they are taking advantage of you and not giving anything back I think not being nasty you have to distance yourself and maybe cut ties with them altogether and find people who you consider to be true friends who are there through thick and thin so to speak.
Sometimes you just need a reminder. Thank you for this list. The most difficult thing (especially when you have embraced a different lifestyle) is to stay true to yourself.
I “usually” don’t work for other people. I DO when I have to! So many people in my circle really don’t understand not get that I am okay with not having a new car, clothes, shoes or hair.
As I struggle to maintain my life, I am still happy more often than not. I don’t have to deal with office politics and negativity. I get to help people in all the ways I can.
Thank you so much for reminding my WHY I choose to live my life as I do.
Angelic Blessings Winging Your Way, Today and Every Day!
I love #6 and #4
Regarding #6: Sometimes people will never change, not at least until they are ready. You cannot be the force, the thing, the idea that makes them see this differently. Sometimes there are people who have made a conscious decision to be that way for however long and for whatever reason. Listen to that. They are telling you that. Don’t hang around thinking they will change. No amount of love you give them will alter the path they have chosen for their lives. In fact, the more attention you give them, they know that you will continue to be there even though you know that is not what they want. So then they will take this attention and misappropriated love/feelings and take advantage of it so that they can get the comfort and care from you. Then at the end, they can legitimately tell you, as they have been honest from the start, that they don’t want you.
Awesome.. very important principles.
Great words of wisdom.
Yea sure you shouldn’t try to change people and I understand that if you’re in a difficult relationship you should leave. But I just don’t know how when I do love him so much, and I’ve invested so much into this relationship already. I almost feel stuck, my life plans out the window if I end it and I’m back at the beginning, I’ll be fourty by the time I have my first child if I break it off now.
aditya menon says
Thank you so much. Your words are like balm to a tortured soul.
Chris Derepentigny says
This applies to my current relationship so much. Example, it was my birthday yesterday & my girlfriend that I’m in love with lives one state away. She is currently traveling with work. I expected a call happy birthday. All I got was a text & it still has me upset. This article made me look at how I expect things & made me feel so much better. Like the first 2 words in all 7 steps “Stop Expecting” is a process I need to improve on. Thank you for writing & the beginning is awesome. Bruce Lee was & still is awesome!