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Great Expectations

Being real with ourselves and others about expectations

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By:
Andrea Baber

Do you find yourself weighed down by thoughts and feelings that you are not meeting everyone’s expectations and are letting people down? I wonder if this is a lie that we tell ourselves or a story that we make up in our minds? Maybe we are assuming that others are putting expectations on us when they actually aren’t.  I know I struggle with this and to be honest, it is the source of a lot of stress in my life. 

 

Often, I assume what other people are expecting of me just based on the relationship I have with them. Friends, family members, bosses, and my husband will always have expectations of me – and this is a good thing. It’s a natural part of life but my assumption that I know what they want from me creates a higher bar of expectations that I strive to meet, and that is where my stress level increases. I am learning that having honest and open conversations about expectations with people in my life and getting really clear on what their perspective is, often creates either a more realistic bar to reach or opens the conversation to come to a different shared understanding.

The truth I can lean on is that God still loves me even though I often struggle with pleasing others.

There are times when expectations may be communicated, but are vague. I have found that pursuing clarity mitigates misunderstanding and thereby hurt feelings or the stress I feel when I try to wrestle through what is meant on my own. Oftentimes, we might not want to ask for clarity for fear of being perceived as weak or are afraid of potential conflict that a different perspective might bring, but it is worth the work to get clear on expectations in any relationship. 

 

A couple of questions that I often ask myself are:  

 

  1. Do I understand what the person is expecting of me?
  2. Why do I think this is expected of me?  Is it something I am assuming?
  3. Is this expectation realistic and reasonable and something I am able to do?

 

Once I started to become aware that I can often make up stories in my head of what I thought was expected of me, I realized that I need to think more about the question of “Why?” I felt this way. 

 

I am a people pleaser and I don’t like conflict. Maybe you can relate. I often don’t get clarity because I am afraid of what people will think of me but in the long run it makes me insecure and not able to find out the truth and instead I make choices in my life to fulfill false beliefs about what people want from me. The truth I can lean on is that God still loves me even though I often struggle with pleasing others.  I know I need to please God overall. God does not expect me or you to be perfect or to take on the world and have all the answers. Remember, that we are created uniquely by a God who loves us and he doesn’t expect us to communicate perfectly all the time but rather He wants us to surrender ourselves to Him and allow Him to come alongside us and help us on our journey. 

 

We all live with expectations – those put on us by ourselves, other people, and the community around us.  Not all are reasonable or even realistic – the world of social media certainly doesn’t help with this!  But we can get really clear with key people in our lives and live a life where the standard is set between each other and not informed by the world around us.

Meet the author

headshot - andrea
Andrea Baber
Andrea is a mother of 2 boys and has been married to her husband Matt for 16 years. She loves being with people. Andrea and her family love to go on road trips and find fun and unique experiences! She loves sports and enjoys a good Burrito!!

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