Treat others as you would have them treat you… sage advice; however, the results can be disappointing.
We become transactional in our approach to relationships when we interact with others and assume reciprocity.
We, and they, become slaves to expectations. They should because we have.
So many of us wear the scars left by the shackles of expectations.
Shackles used, inadvertently, in the enslavement of others, thus allowing us to become their wardens…their masters.
Our expectations are demands and standards that we set for other’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Often, they are beyond even our own capabilities. When we are under the weight of someone’s expectations, we can feel burdened, stressed and eventually resentment may set in.
Should… A key verb in the language of expectation
According to Oxford English Dictionary, should “indicates a desirable or expected state.”
When we unpack that, we realize that the desire and expectation are coming from one person and directed towards another. This can make for unbalanced and unstable relationships.
I once had a therapist that would tell me he doesn’t go around “shoulding” on people…
I didn’t quite understand at the time, but I have since adopted the same attitude, which has saved me quite a bit of heartache and irritation.
Additionally, it has probably freed those in my life from feeling as if they don’t or can’t measure up.
A few years ago, a friend expressed feeling like a disappointment in our friendship. I was stunned. I had no idea that I was that demanding. I wasn’t. But, I did have a lot of expectations.
Perception Persuades Expectations
All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. Leonardo da Vinci
Expectations can come from anywhere. We are conditioned from birth to behave accordingly in every environment. We are conditioned to attempt to live up to the expectations of parents, friends and society.
As a result, we become accustomed to it. We become accustomed to living up to the wants, desires and needs of others. We become accustomed to feeling that those in our lives should live up to ours.
The “standards” being set are normally based on how we perceive and interpret the world around us… which shapes how we think it should be.
Our perception affects how we interpret what we see ….and what we think we see affects our perception….
In many cases we see what we expect to see.
Perception Dictates Response
My mental eyes have deceived me more than I would care to admit… And sometimes,no matter what lens I pick up to look through,the result is still just as distorted.
I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up…- Morpheus (The Matrix)
It has taken some time, but I am becoming increasingly aware that the way I view the world around me is not always accurate.
There are times when I am peering through a telescope of envy, anger, cynicism or pain.
At other times my eyes are colored by love, joy and optimism.
Blue pill or red pill. What did I take today?
Most of my communication is through text messages and email. Written.
I have learned to prefer those methods of communication because I can always go back and read them again. I have found this to be very useful for my own growth.
Once, I had a very heated email exchange with a friend. I was insulted and dismayed. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
A few days later, I read the same email again, only to realize that my perception, at the time, was quite distorted.
This same email that I was reading (days later) didn’t seem remotely similar to what I’d remembered reading.
It was so dissimilar that the meaning was almost opposite of what I had taken it for initially.
I was dismayed for a different reason.
I was also grateful that it was an email exchange and not a verbal exchange. The email allowed me to see my distortion.
Had there been a conversation, I would have been convinced of the accuracy of my interpretation.
Jack and Diane (Not their real names): Lessons in Perception
Jack is a master of carefully crafting the perceptions of those in his sphere of influence.
No matter what their original concept of reality was, most will come to see and believe the reality that he creates for them.
He has an uncanny ability to methodically and imperceptibly manufacture illusions that are almost palpable.
As a result of his persuasion, he is able to adjust and shape the expectations of those around him…at will.
Diane is a woman whose perceptions of reality are based on a very difficult childhood. Her world is colored by fear and anxiety. Her perceptions serve to reinforce her thinking. She finds what she’s looking for and only what she’s looking for to the exclusion of everything else around her within her field of vision.
Broken promises or Misplaced Expectations
It depends on how you look at it. Sometimes we become so accustomed to the way we do things, it can feel like that’s how it goes and should be done. It can be very difficult to understand that we are all different and our thoughts and perspectives are unique.
Should. There’s that word again. It doesn’t just suggest, it is almost a passive aggressive demand that circumstances and/or people fall in line with our ideas.
When people fail to toe the line…when they fail to meet our standards, disappointment sets in.
When we give (what we feel) are diamonds, and we receive (what we feel are) stones, relationships/friendships can feel unequal or at worst, one-sided.
In reality, we all have our own thoughts and beliefs about how to show up in the world.
What we may think are “stones” may very well be their attempt at gifting diamonds.
Lens-craft… What Are Your Lenses Made Of?
In his bestseller, The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz, discusses some of the ways that can affect how we view ourselves as well as how we interpret what we see, hear, feel.
These agreements not only impact the expectations, standards and demands that we place on ourselves but it affects what we expect from others.
When we take the time out to reframe our perspective and look through the eyes of another person, we can gain such knowledge and wisdom.
Rather than living out an exacting and suffocating mindset, rooted in control, we get the opportunity to see the world around us as it can be, instead of as we would have it.
We remove the shackles and free both them and ourselves.