Have you ever gotten so mad at someone because they didn’t act the way you’d expect? They didn’t say something right, come on time, or respond to a situation the way you would? Or they didn’t get into the career or school they should have or wear the clothes you picked for them?
Yeah, me too. We expect people to do things our way and harp at them at how wrong they are for doing it their way. We project our visions on someone else and expect them to follow along blindly with no pushback.
We wish we had done something we see our children are good at and push them into it even though they’ve expressed interest elsewhere. We see so much potential in our spouse and resent them for not living up to our expectations.
You know what this does? I know you do, but I’m saying it anyway: it pushes them away. It drives them into rebellion. It makes them resent you. Whether it’s your spouse, child, relative, or friend, they will gradually remove you from conversations and withdraw from your life if you continue pushing.
We think we’re doing what’s best, but it’s actually the complete opposite. Our loved ones feel inferior and defeated with our know-it-all attitude. In turn, we become stressed and frustrated trying to manage someone else’s life.
One of my “strengths” according to the Strengths Finder Assessment is being a developer. I see people at their peak, their fullest potential, without seeing them for who they currently are. It’s like the movie Shallow Hal when he could no longer see women’s flaws and only see them as beautiful no matter how they looked in real life. It truly is a gift. I️ can find purpose in anyone.
I have high expectations for the people around me. Anyone who says they have a dream has basically permitted me to help them fulfill it (my friends can attest to that).
Instead of it being an amazing gift in my life, it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble. I’d find myself judging and becoming disappointed because they weren’t living up to my expectation. I would poke and prod and even belittle if I felt it would help, but it never did. Forcing someone into my expectations of who the could be, never did anything positive for them or me.
One situation that I had a hard time letting go was expecting people to be there for me as a mother. Everyone was incredibly supportive during my pregnancy but went ghost when my daughter was born. I expected more from them and resented the relationships I️ had created. But I had to get over it. I had to remember that I’m not that great at communicating with them either, and I️ can’t expect anyone to change their life for my family.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Instead of diving into someone else’s life, I’ve learned to provide support, give advice, and be a cheerleader when asked. Instead of bullying my husband into a career I think he’d be great in, I ask him what he thinks about it then let him decide to pursue it or not. If he doesn’t bring it up again, then I don’t either.
Talking to people about their goals and only giving advice when asked has been a challenge, but it helps me not dwell on my expectations and appreciate them for who they are.
Be kind to those around you, and give yourself a break. Start seeing people for who they are by allowing them to make their own decisions and love their own lives. The same goes for our children. It’s not our job to impose unattainable standards on them. We can’t force them into a life they aren’t meant to live. We have to accept them in their current form, so they grow up knowing and loving who they are.
The next time you find yourself giving unsolicited advice or you’re upset with someone for doing something their way, stop and think about what you’re doing and how the other person may feel. Are you helping them be themselves? Do they seem upset, frustrated, or defeated by what you’re saying? Give yourself and break and let others live their lives their way.
Do you find yourself imposing your expectations on others? Has that worked for you? What can you do (or have done) to stop being so pushy?