Expectations…. we all have them. I expect that when I take my dogs in public they will act as if I have actually spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training them. I expect when I walk into work that I will have prepared enough for my day that I feel competent and am thorough in my job. I expect that if I continue working out I will see results that support the body and energy that I want to have in my life.
But what about our expectations of other people? There are societal expectations placed on people who engage in certain institutions such as marriage or monogamy. We certainly have expectations about people who fall into leadership categories. In these situations we have been programmed to think certain ways, but what happens when that programmed thinking seeps into our intimate relationships?
Let me tell you…. not a lot of good.
Intimate relationships start out so fresh and new. A blank canvas. An opportunity to create something that works for two people but doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a certain box. Sadly, most of us, (myself included) drag a whole bunch of baggage into our relationships leading to…. you guessed it… the E world. Instead of striving to create something unique and satisfying for both parties we self sabotage sometimes to the point of no return.
When we project our expectations onto a partner or friend without clearly outlining our needs and wants we are setting ourselves up for failure…. which is maybe an expectation based on past relationships (Hmmm….). We look for them to call when we feel they should call, say the things we think they should say, express love in a way that we want it expressed. We spend countless hours waiting for a person to show up in one way or another to fill the shoes of an ideal we have set for ourselves, only to be disappointed in them as a person. Then we find exactly what we are looking for – the faults, the empty promises, the downfalls.
I was having one of those moments on Christmas. I was literally waiting for someone to contact me as some show of affection, or sign of love. I caught myself doing this after my second hour of obsessively checking my phone. In the past I would have spiraled into wondering what I had done wrong to piss that person off or I would have questioned EVERYTHING they ever told me about how much they cared because obviously it all hinged on one text message. That thinking is just plain stupid and not useful in any way. Thankfully, I realized that. I realized I could make a choice and use the situation as a lesson in a failure of love or I could use it to change my patterns. Just like that I stopped waiting. I reached out, sent my message of love and put my phone down and walked away. I busied myself with what I wanted to do and after a while I stopped thinking about this person and I went about my day.
My expectations are based on some really messed up ways of thinking. I am super proud of myself for realizing that. I am getting much more efficient at recognizing these distorted patterns. Once I had the awareness of what I was doing I took a peek back at some other relationships and realized I am ALWAYS waiting for someone to show up like I want them to, and this really isn’t fair. I don’t have a lot of people in my life, but the ones who are fortunate enough to be here, I show up massively for. The heartache comes in when I expect the same in return. Most of the time if I really look at my situation they do show up for me … or try to…. and most of the time I don’t let them cause I suck at receiving. This is the martyr mentality coming in again. “I give and give and give and what do I get in return, nothing! I suffer in silence!”
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of all the guessing and hoping and expectations we were open and honest and unafraid to voice what we needed? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have those hard conversations that actually aren’t that scary and feel like such relief once they are started? How would it feel if we were able to cultivate lasting relationships that didn’t necessarily fit into a mold but honored and cared for the needs of both parties?
As we move closer to 2020 the normal cycle of death and rebirth is upon us and as I look back on relationships I can see some things that need to be resolved and some doors that need to be lovingly and gently closed. So what did I do on Christmas? I stopped waiting, and started showing up for myself. I appreciated me for being as loving as I am and shed a tear or two over the discovery of another bent piece of me and then I carefully hammered it back to shape.
I still have expectations. Lots of them. But I also realize the only thing I can control is me. My thoughts, my emotions, my actions. My expectations in those areas are very high so that I can experience life in my most authentic capacity. My expectations of others? They were sent off to sea. As with the ebb and flow of any wave, I know they will come back home and when that time comes I will gently usher them back out to the great beyond, because they no longer belong on my beach. ❤ ❤