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Have you ever felt like the difficulties in a relationship have become chronically stuck?  If so, has anyone ever given you the advice, “You know, maybe you should stop trying to change them…and perhaps try to change the way that you see them instead.”

At first, that can be hard to hear.

“Oh, sure,” we say defensively, “It’s MY entire fault!”

 Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, listen the first time.”

When we are able to settle down into the intention of this advice, we may feel a sense of relief in realizing that it truly isn’t anyone’s fault. We struggle when we want them to be someone other than who they are.  A hallmark symptom of this tendency is when we often feel disappointed in the actions or inactions of others. It can feel emotionally, physically, mentally and socially exhausting to be frequently disappointed in others. This feeling is devastating enough in of itself, but over time it also results in toxic loads of resentment, increased guardedness for self-protection, and an inevitable loneliness and isolation.

Disappointment often results from dashed expectations. Having expectations is human, but if they are unrealistic, they will lead us down a dark road of upset, separation and mistrust. We all form expectations—some based in strength and abundance; some based in fear and lack. Those based in strength often generate more strength, and even if those expectations are not met, we still feel strong enough to readjust and grow forward.

But when our expectations have originated from a place of loss and lack, they set us up for failure—hoping, like a dependent child, that someone outside of ourselves will take on the responsibility of fulfilling our needs. The trouble erupts when those whom we expect to do this, neither comply with the “Disney” movie script in our heads, nor the part we have written specifically for them. They just won’t do it, darn them!! They insist on playing the part they have written for themselves (of all the nerve :)

Disappointment often results from dashed expectations

This is usually when the fork in the road presents itself. Yet, no one can tell us when to stay in a relationship or when to go. One thing is for sure, we must work to see others as they are. Maya Angelou (May she rest in peace) once said, “When people show you who they are, listen the first time.”

Before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, mercifully review and perhaps adjust any previously entrenched expectations —  a sober reflection of one another’s expectations has the potential to revitalize many relationships. When we take the time to clarify our vision, we’re able to forge more reasonable expectations as to what we’re honestly able/willing to give and receive; what we’re able/willing to work with/on or not; and whether it’s more healthy to proceed together or apart.  When we feel intimately seen and accepted (with all of our haloes and fangs included), we feel deeply connected and even healed.

Whatever the outcome may be, taking the time to reset healthy, mutual expectations creates more clarity and compassion — the sacred pathway from one heart to another.

Have you ever become aware of expecting too much/too little of yourself or another? Theories are just theories until our stories bring it home. Thanks for sharing yours.

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

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