We all have many unconscious scripts choreographing our dance through life. They trip us up, putting us out of rhythm, demanding more from us. Often, we also place these invisible demands on others, expecting them to act or speak in a certain way. Having these often unspoken expectations between one another can be detrimental to relationships.
Whether we perceive something as a good or bad experience, it moulds our belief system from a very early age. Speaking from experience as an ex-perfectionist, I was raised in an environment where I was praised heavily for my loyalty to older people and authority figures and I was punished for doing nothing – expectations passed down from generations of experience of how to parent. As a result, for most of my adult life I was frustrated at those who I believed were not working hard enough.
I strived to be the best and to be ‘right’. When I wasn’t, I felt shame and guilt, leading to dark moments.
The feeling of not being enough saw me distance myself from connecting with others too strongly in case they let me down. This stunted me romantically and saw me disconnect from community groups. I constantly felt betrayed in all areas of my life because of my expectations of how I thought people should act. I would also never have conversations around expectations we had for one another prior to relationship breakdowns.
Because I never asked what other people expected, I never really knew if others were aligned with my own desired outcomes. Instead, I herded others towards what I believed through my enthusiasm and passion (manipulation). I held stubborn beliefs around respecting authority and what I believed loyalty was within all relationships. I ended up creating unwanted drama through my feelings of what I perceived as betrayals towards me.
Can you recognise what your destructive patterns are and when they first started? Once we unpack our own growth experiences, we can start witnessing how others have influenced us. I believe we need to divorce the expectations that we had on our parents, schools, and our culture in order to love our life teachers without feeling that our experiences were supposed to be anything other than what they were. Once we can do this, we can then start to question our outdated beliefs in a healthy manner and start thinking from our wiser selves. Only then can we start to make conscious choices to acknowledge the different perspectives within our relationships, let our life playmates be their authentic selves and speak our truth while relinquishing control of how others will react or the future outcomes that we cannot control.
If we listen more, we can embrace input from others and ensure they feel heard, while together we make decisions. We will create clarity in our communication, whether that be more casual discussions establishing everyone’s needs, or more formal contracts, minimising unexpected confrontation.
When we acknowledge where there are expectations put upon ourselves and others, we can start pulling down the walls that are dividing us from connection. We can start to unlearn what we were once taught to be gospel and stay open to the endless possibilities of harmonious outcomes.
• Where in your life can you put an agreement in place to strengthen communication and trust?
• Where can you honour yourself by expressing your needs?
• Where can you invite open communication within your relationships to allow authentic sharing without judgement?