As high as our own expectations may be, it seems like we all have at least one person in our lives whose expectations we will never meet. There’s always someone out there that thinks we should be more, do more, or have more. Unfortunately, often these people also don’t come right out and tell us what they expect, they just let us know when we’ve let them down by not meeting those unsaid expectations.
As frustrating as this can be, this is about them. Not you.
Read through that first paragraph again. When put in its abstract form, you can readily see that there isn’t much of anything you can do to meet an unsaid, implied, or vague expectation. It’s out of your hands.
In this circumstance, what matters is how we react to the situation. Granted, if the person is close to us it’s difficult to not feel like we’ve let him or her down. And if we haven’t met our own expectations as well, adding the knowledge that we’ve let someone else down can make everything seem worse.
In an ideal world, we’d be able to let the person know that placing expectations on us isn’t fair and that it should stop because it’s not helpful. And right now you’re thinking, “Yeah, right. Have you met my mom (or dad, or spouse, or friend)?”
OK, maybe that conversation isn’t going to happen. What can happen is that you can anticipate it, remind yourself that it’s not about you, and then when it comes refuse to let it demean you in any way.
When we miss expectations that have been clearly set and that we’ve agreed to, we need to come clean, own up to whatever we did to miss the mark, and take responsibility for what comes next. When expectations are undefined and misplaced, they are not ours to own. Don’t take them on after the fact. Just listen and move on.