“If we could see ourselves as others see us, we would vanish on the spot.” – Emil Cioran
Others’ expectations on us have a direct effect on how we behave, as shown by a social psychology study done by Dr. Snyder from University of Minnesota and his colleagues. Understanding that our behaviour is affected by others expectations can help us see how we turn into different persons in various social situations. When it comes to persons we feel affection for, their expectations can affect our lives at even a deeper level. Why are we influenced by expectations from dear ones and how can we realistically manage any of their negative effects on our lives?
When we feel how others see us
Early morning, the rain was pattering against the windows.
The rest of the family was sleeping, while I was awake, feeling disappointed with myself for not being able to put into practice my birthday resolution.
I had promised to myself an act of liberty – to start learning how to break free from the silent expectations that others may have on me.
I was staring at the fog outside the window. It was so dense that I got the feeling that it would be just a matter of minutes before it broke into our house.
The sudden shriek of a seagull disturbed the rhythmic noise of the rain drops. Even the fog flickered.
My inner peace is startled in the same way when someone I care about behaves as if, “You’ve disappointed me!”
Momentarily, the energy level goes down with frustration. Why do others have opinions about how I should live my life?
Not only that, but they adopt a silent disapproval, which is even more compelling. Eventually, we may give in and start considering how we can behave as others expect us to. We start considering how we can please.
Love and expectations
Are we afraid that failing to live up to the unspoken expectations would make others love us less?
The truth is that love and expectations have nothing to do with each other. Love comes from the heart, expectations come from the mind.
So, any expectation someone else might have on us is reflecting their own mindset and perspective on life.
As much as we care about someone else – be that our partner, parents, siblings, friends or colleagues -, it would not be fair for us to adjust our behaviour so that it can fit their view on life.
In a party, it is fun to be flirtatious with the man in whose eyes you read, “You’re sexy!”. The way others view can temporary change our behaviour.
But, the expectations of the loved ones on us can bring tremendous turmoil in our life.
In times of emotional unbalance, it may be hard to remember that we have our own life to live and we owe it to our true self to live unhindered by others’ opinions or emotional reactions.
Forgive others for expecting
It’s important to be observe how much our wellbeing is dependent on others expectations and decide to do something about it.
It may help to be more mindful next time when the turmoil is about to start. Instead of making yet another compromise, we can go on taking action based on our principles and beliefs.
Otherwise, we’ll get old and feeling like failures if we keep on asking ourselves, “What will mother think if I venture into a trip around the world?”. And later on, “If mother were alive, what would she think if …?”
We should not expect that others’ expectations on us will ever stop. On the contrary, one expectation leads to another. And maybe that’s their way to show that they love and care about us.
What we can do is not to react to the demands on what we should do or shouldn’t do. And we need to practice patience until the frustration, anger and sadness caused by their interference go away.
Our reward is the inner peace, which shall be restored again!
Maybe we should avoid wondering how others see us in order to blossom.