Just like most things, expectations can be helpful or not helpful. So it’s important to be aware of the expectations you have and how they are serving you. You may have some unhelpful expectations that you’re not aware of, and they can make life unnecessarily difficult.
It’s particularly important for those of us who are empathic and/or highly sensitive to be aware of and pay attention to our expectations because we tend to have extremely (and often unrealistically) high expectations of ourselves, and therefore of others. Also, because we see and experience things in a different way, with a lot more sensory input, we may have a tendency to expect that others see and feel what we do, when they don’t (and can’t). This sets us up for massive disappointment.
Here are some examples of expectations that can get in the way:
Life should always be fair – it would be nice if this were true. Unfortunately, things often happen that are not fair. The more you hold on to the unfairness of something that’s happened, the more stuck and frustrated you will feel.
Other people have the same values and integrity as you – I’m sure that by now you’ve experienced the fact that this is not true. Yet sometimes we hold onto the expectation. I am reminded of this consistently when I play tennis. For some people, winning is everything, and they will employ any and all tactics (including distractions and gamesmanship) to ensure that they have the best chance of winning. This doesn’t feel right to me – but do those people care? They don’t. If I hold onto this expectation the only person who is affected is me.
Other people have the same empathy as you – they won’t and in many cases can’t. If you’re an empath, the majority of people can never understand and feel the same way you do. Holding onto this expectation will not only continue to disappoint and upset/frustrate you, but it will also affect many of your relationships.
Other people know what you’re thinking/feeling – we often have the expectation that those closest to us should understand exactly what we’re feeling and know if/when we need help and support, particularly if you are very sensitive to the needs and emotions of others. The reality is that very often (if not most of the time) they don’t. Again, if you are highly sensitive/empathic, it’s highly likely that they won’t – unless they are also highly sensitive. I have found that people really appreciate it when you don’t assume they know, but instead you learn to let them know what you’re feeling and ask for what you need.
You can help everyone or change someone – not everybody wants to be helped, and it’s not your responsibility to take on the problems of others. If someone doesn’t want to change or doesn’t see that they need to, then nothing you say or do will persuade them otherwise. If someone does come to you because they have a problem and they need help, you can support and guide them through it, but the change has to come from within them. There is only one person you can change, and that is you. Holding onto this expectation can leave you feeling exhausted.
These are just some of the expectations that can get in the way. Keep in mind that highly sensitive and empathic people often have many other unrealistic expectations as well, such as: that other people should understand you, people should automatically know and respect your boundaries, or that you should try to fit in and be like everyone else.
As with everything, it comes down to awareness. The more aware you become of your expectations, the more you will be able to see whether they are supporting you or standing in your way.
Action Step: Think of a situation (or person) that is particularly frustrating to you right now. Think about your expectations for this person or situation and ask yourself if your expectations supporting or hurting you. Do you need to adjust your expectations in some way?
This affirmation will help:
I am now willing to release all expectations of myself and others that do not support me.
P.S. Join me for a special end of year Master Class on November 15th, the title is What You Need to Know to Go From Stuck to Unstoppable: 3 Crucial Steps For Allowing Success in Your Life. Find out more by clicking on the button below.