People who suffer a lot, often times do so, because they are cognitively wrong about what they think they have a right to expect.Abraham H. Maslow
Are you someone who expects certain things from your partner, children, friends, family members, coworkers or employer/employees? Do you notice that when what you expect doesn’t happen that you feel resentful, disappointed, hurt, frustrated, or angry?
Having expectations of others is a set-up for us. If what we are expecting does not occur, then we feel unease or uncomfortable to some degree. I am not suggesting that it is not okay to want and need certain things, or behaviors, from those in our personal and professional lives. I am saying, however, that there is a difference between expecting something versus needing, wanting, and hoping for it.
Expecting Vs. Hoping
An expectation does not leave any room for any other result. Either someone does something, or says something that you expect, or does not. This is about having an all or nothing perspective. So, is it no wonder that if we expect something from another and it does not happen that we feel resentful, disappointed, hurt, frustrated or angry?
If instead we try to approach this differently, by framing our thoughts as a request, a want, or a hope instead of an expectation, our emotional response is more likely to be less intense if what we ask for doesn’t happen. This means that we would instead think:
- “I want this person to…”
- “I would like it if they would…”
- “It is important to me that…”
- “I hope this will happen…”
Utilizing this way of approaching a desire is less likely to have a huge emotional response and one that is more in proportion with what we are looking for from another person. Thus, making it less likely for us to have negative reactions.
An Opening for Opportunities
This does not suggest that we are willing to accept less than we deserve or want. It just may mean that we do not have some rigid perspective of what is to happen. It gives us the opportunity to ask for what we need, yet, if it doesn’t happen we are not so stuck in our reaction that we aren’t able to help our partner, friend, family member, or employee/employer find a way to potentially give it to us. We can then teach them how to do this as opposed to being stuck in our intense feelings and reactions. Otherwise, if they resist we might find ourselves in a stalemate or a power struggle, which does not serve either person. We are not settling for less, we are just giving ourselves and the other person a chance to show up in a way that we may need, even if it means some negotiation.
For more tips on hoping for something versus expecting something from someone, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that you are able to communicate your wants and needs in a positive way that enhances and enriches your relationships.
-Kathleen Dwyer-Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling