One of the hardest questions Buddha asked is, what makes you the happiest?
Oftentimes the things that make us the happiest are the things we can’t have or can’t do because of expectations. Think about Romeo and Juliet, think about the career you really wanted to pursue but your family had other expectations, think about the color you want to dye your hair but your work expects you to maintain a certain image.
We’ve all made choices in life because of expectations. These expectations affect how we feel and shape the perception of our reality. We especially allow the expectations of others to influence and sometimes dictate our path in life, thus robbing us of our happiness.
In love, we sometimes fall victim to the expectations of others. I had a friend in college who got engaged to a man she did not love or want to be with. In her culture, it was expected for her parents to select her husband. She was sad and helpless and didn’t feel she had a choice. Her family’s expectations were robbing her of her happiness.
I’ve fallen into expectations thinking the next step in a relationship meant marriage when I clearly wasn’t a match with someone. I also had a lover influenced by his family to meet a girl that met their expectations. In his words, they often told him to break up with me. This happened to my mom too, when she was young, she was forced to end a relationship by the mother of the boy because she wasn’t rich and of the same social class…
Expectations are the reason many relationships don’t survive.Think about it, how many fights have you had in a romantic relationship because of expectations. When our expectations are not met, we start trying to change and mold the person we are with into becoming the person we want them to be.
In the Feisty Mermaids podcast #12, I talk more about this, about the expectations in relationships and how they shape our choices. Eventually expectations will give way to disappointment, leading to feelings of hurt, followed by the use of defense mechanisms like anger, withdrawal and rejection.
I’ve had unrealistic expectations of love because of what I see in movies and perfectly curated love stories on social media.
In the podcast I talk about the five things I am doing to stop the cycle of unrealistic expectations:
Learn to see things for what they are, instead of what I think they should be
Asking myself what are my expectations of a situation or a person
Reminding myself that what I see on social media is not always real
Be kind and gentle to myself when I feel disappointed when something didn’t meet my expectations
I invite you to be mindful of your expectations. Those placed by others on to you, and the ones you place on other people. Letting go of expectations will allow you to be wholehearted and centered with every relationship in your life.