Ever caught yourself expecting certain behaviors or actions from the people around you? We all do it from time to time. The problem is that when you expect too much from others, it often leads to disappointment, frustration, and hurt feelings. The truth is, you can’t control how other people act or what they do. You can only control your reactions and responses. So why not do yourself a favor and stop expecting so much from the people around you?
Lower your expectations of others, and you’ll find yourself feeling less resentful and let down. You’ll appreciate the good things people do for you instead of taking them for granted. And you’ll be able to accept people as they are, flaws and all, instead of wishing they would change to suit you. The less you expect from others, the happier and more at peace you’ll feel. So do yourself a favor: stop expecting so much from the people around you and start focusing on the only thing you can control: yourself.
Focus on yourself, not what others do.
Stop wasting your energy on what other people should or shouldn’t do. You’ll be so much happier when you focus on yourself instead.
- Pay attention to your own actions and reactions. Notice the times you get upset over small things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Take a step back and ask yourself why you feel that way. Is it because of unrealistic expectations you have of others?
- Stop trying to control people and situations that are out of your control. The only person you can control is yourself. Make choices that align with your values and priorities. Don’t worry so much about what others choose to do.
- Practice self-care. Exercise, eat healthy, engage in hobbies, and pursue your interests. Take a yoga class or start a garden. Do small things each day that make you feel good and bring you joy. When you feel happy and fulfilled, you won’t have the time or energy to worry about what others are or aren’t doing.
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Why You Should Stop Expecting You From Other People
Focusing on yourself is challenging, but it’s worth it. You’ll build confidence from the inside out, worry less, and experience more inner peace. You can’t force people to meet your expectations, so drop that fruitless effort. Choose to be responsible for your own happiness instead. Ultimately, that’s the only person you can expect anything from.
1. You can’t control other people, only yourself.
You can’t control how other people act or what they do. The only thing you have power over are your own reactions and responses. When you stop expecting certain behaviors from others, you’ll feel less frustrated and disappointed.
- People are imperfect. Everyone has good and bad days. No one can meet all of your expectations at once. Accept that people will mess up, let you down, and not always do what you want them to do.
- Focus on yourself. Rather than trying to change people or force them to act how you want, work on bettering yourself. Improve your own attitude and outlook. Choose not to let the actions of others affect you so deeply.
- Communicate clearly. While you can’t control others, you can make your needs and boundaries known. Calmly and politely tell people how their behavior makes you feel and what you expect from your relationships. Be open to listening to their perspective as well. Clear communication can help set proper expectations on both sides.
- Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, people’s actions say more about them than you. Try not to take slights or callousness to heart. Remind yourself that you cannot control others; you can only influence them. Do not give people power over you by making their words or deeds personal attacks.
When you accept that you have no control over others but only yourself, you’ll feel freer and less stressed. Focus on surrounding yourself with people who treat you well, set clear boundaries, and work on not letting the imperfections of human nature affect you so deeply. Your happiness depends on you, not on what others do or don’t do.
2. Expectations lead to disappointment and resentment.
- Stop expecting perfection.
When you expect perfection from others, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. No one is perfect, so expecting friends, family, or coworkers to never make a mistake or always do exactly what you want is unrealistic. Recognize that people have good and bad days, get distracted or forgetful, and have their own priorities and ways of doing things.
- Don’t assume the worst.
It’s easy to assume the worst when expectations aren’t met, but that usually says more about you than the other person. Give people the benefit of the doubt instead of immediately accusing them of ill intent or a lack of caring. There are many possible explanations, so don’t jump to conclusions. Stay calm and compassionate.
- Communicate Clearly
The only person you have control over is yourself. Make sure you’re communicating your needs, wants, and expectations to others in a constructive way. Don’t expect people to read your mind or know what you need without you telling them. Be specific and straightforward to minimize misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
Learning to curb unrealistic expectations of others is challenging but so worthwhile. It leads to healthier relationships, less disappointment and resentment, and a greater sense of inner peace. Make the choice today to release expectations, give without demanding in return, and accept imperfections in yourself and others.
3. Focus on your own needs first.
When you stop expecting things from other people, you can turn your focus inward to determine what you really want and need to be happy. Make a list of things that truly matter to you and that you have control over. These might include:
- Spending more time with close friends who share your values
- Engaging in hobbies and activities that you find personally fulfilling
- Setting small, achievable goals each day will build your confidence from within.
- Practicing self-care through exercise, meditation, or journaling
- Traveling to new places that inspire and recharge you
Rather than looking to others for validation or to fill a void, look within yourself. Get to know yourself better by evaluating your core values, priorities, and sources of meaning. Make sure to schedule time each week dedicated solely to these pursuits.
When you meet your own essential needs and experience a sense of personal growth, you’ll find that you naturally become less dependent on what others do or don’t do for you. Any disappointment from unmet expectations of people around you won’t cut as deep. You’ll recognize that you alone are responsible for your happiness and wellbeing.
This inner shift in mindset can be incredibly empowering. You’ll gain a greater sense of self-confidence from pursuing your own dreams and desires rather than passively waiting for others to support or fulfill you in some way. You’ll build resilience in the face of life’s inevitable challenges and setbacks. And you’ll develop a stronger sense of inner peace by detaching your emotional state from the actions of those around you.
Focusing on your own needs and personal journey is the surest path to contentment that doesn’t require anything from anyone else. When you stop expecting great things from others and instead expect great things from yourself, you’ll find true freedom and joy.
4. Relying on Others for Your Happiness Makes Disappointments
When you expect other people to make you happy or meet all your needs, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. No one can give you everything you need—that’s an unrealistic expectation. The only person responsible for your happiness is you.
Rather than relying on others, focus on self-care. Make sure you’re meeting your own basic needs for sleep, nutrition, exercise, and downtime. Engage in hobbies and activities that you find personally fulfilling. Pursue your own interests and passions, not what you think will please someone else.
Stop looking to others for validation. Don’t let compliments or criticism sway your own self-worth and confidence. You know your own strengths, values, and accomplishments, so believe in yourself regardless of what others say about you.
Learn to enjoy your own company. Become comfortable doing things alone, like dining out, seeing movies, or traveling. Don’t feel like you constantly need to be around other people or in a relationship to be happy. Embrace solitude and get to know yourself better.
The bottom line is that you can’t control other people; you can only control your reactions and responses. Choose to not rely on what others do or don’t do for your happiness and well-being. Make self-care a priority and pursue your own fulfillment. Let go of unrealistic expectations of others and instead maintain healthy boundaries. Learn to validate yourself from within and find contentment in living according to your own values and purpose. Your happiness is in your hands alone.
5. You tend to judge others for not meeting your expectations.
Stop expecting others to meet your expectations. It’s unfair to hold people to standards they never agreed to in the first place.
Let go of assumptions.
- Don’t assume others share your values and priorities. People come from diverse backgrounds and life experiences that shape their perspectives in unique ways.
- Drop hints and be direct. Don’t expect others to read your mind about what you want or need. Communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
Focus on yourself.
Rather than judging others for failing to meet your expectations, look inward. Ask yourself:
- Are my expectations realistic and reasonable? Expecting perfection from imperfect human beings is unrealistic.
- Why do I feel upset or disappointed? Your reactions say more about you than the other person’s. Look for the root cause of these feelings within yourself.
- What can I control? You can’t control others; you can only influence them. But you are in full control of your own choices and responses.
Accept people as they are.
The only person you can change is yourself. Learn to accept others for who they are—flaws, shortcomings, and all.
- Appreciate people for who they are, not who you want them to be. When you release the need to change people, you can enjoy them as they are.
- Adjust your expectations to match reality. Make your peace with the fact that people are complex, multi-dimensional beings—not one-dimensional characters that exist just to please you.
Releasing unrealistic expectations of others is liberating. It allows you to build healthier relationships based on acceptance rather than judgment. Focus on communicating clearly, and remember that you can’t control people—you can only influence them. Ultimately, you must accept people as they are, not as you wish them to be.
6. Communicate your needs clearly, but don’t demand them.
When it comes to relationships, it’s important to communicate your needs to others. However, there’s a difference between communicating your needs and demanding them. Demanding your needs often comes across as selfish or entitled, which can damage your relationships.
Express how you feel.
Tell the other person how their actions make you feel without accusing or attacking them. Use “I” statements, like “I feel frustrated when you don’t call me back.” This approach is more constructive than saying, “You never call me back. You’re so inconsiderate.” Give the other person a chance to respond and have an open conversation.
Compromise when possible
Be willing to listen to the other perspective and find a compromise. Your needs are important, but so are the needs of others. A compromise that works for everyone is the ideal solution. If a compromise isn’t possible right now, revisit the conversation in the future.
Accept what you can’t change.
You can’t force someone to meet your needs against their will. As difficult as it is, accept what you can’t change and decide whether the relationship is still right for you. Let go of expectations and judgments, and make the choice that is in your best interest.
Communicating your needs in a healthy way will lead to better relationships and less disappointment and resentment. Express yourself with empathy, compromise when you can, and accept what you can’t change. Make your needs known, but never demand them.
7. Appreciate any effort and gestures from others.
When it comes to relationships, it’s easy to develop expectations of others and what they “should” do for us. But having unrealistic expectations often leads to disappointment, resentment, and conflict. Instead, try appreciating any effort and gestures from the people in your life, no matter how small they seem.
Be grateful for what you receive.
Rather than complaining about what you think you’re owed, focus on being grateful for what you do receive from others. A simple “thank you” can go a long way toward strengthening your relationships. Saying grace at mealtimes or keeping a gratitude journal are great ways to cultivate an attitude of appreciation.
Don’t keep score.
In healthy relationships, people do things for each other out of care and goodwill, not obligation. Don’t keep track of who did what and when. This tit-for-tat mentality is toxic and will only breed resentment over time. Do small acts of kindness whenever you can, without expecting anything in return. Your relationships will be all the richer for it.
No one is perfect, so do not expect perfection from others. We all have good days and bad days, moments of thoughtfulness and moments of forgetfulness. Learn to accept people as they are, flaws and all. Focus on the good in your relationships instead of the imperfections. With compassion and understanding, you can build deeper connections.
Appreciating the efforts of others, however small, and releasing unrealistic expectations will help you stop expecting things from people and start accepting them. Your relationships will become more harmonious, and you’ll find greater peace and contentment within yourself. Rather than judging others for what they don’t do, be grateful for what they do offer; that is the secret to healthy, balanced relationships.
8. Be grateful for what you have rather than what you expect.
Rather than dwelling on what you expect from others, shift your mindset to appreciate what you already have. Make a habit of regularly reflecting on the good in your life—your health, shelter, loved ones, simple pleasures, talents, and more. Be grateful for the big and little things. This attitude of gratitude helps combat feelings of lack or scarcity and cultivates more peace and contentment.
Don’t rely on external validation.
Don’t rely on other people’s actions or inactions to determine your own self-worth or happiness. You alone are responsible for your emotional well-being. While it’s normal to want appreciation or affection from those close to us, make sure you’re not dependent on it. Validate yourself through your own accomplishments and by nurturing your interests or hobbies.
Focus on what you can control.
Rather than worrying about what others may or may not do, focus on what you can control—your own thoughts, words, and actions. Work on being the kind of person you want to be. Treat people with kindness, compassion, and respect. Do small acts of good each day. While you can’t force others to meet your expectations, you can choose to respond to them with patience, empathy, and wisdom.
In the end, the only person you can truly rely on is yourself. Make your happiness a priority by being grateful for what you have, not relying on others for validation, and focusing on living according to your values. When you stop expecting so much from people and appreciate life as it is, you’ll find more inner peace and healthy relationships.
9. Express your needs and boundaries clearly.
To have healthy relationships, you need to clearly communicate your needs and boundaries. Otherwise, you may end up feeling resentful when others don’t meet your unexpressed expectations.
Be direct, but kind.
Tell people directly what you need from them, but do so with empathy, understanding, and compassion. Say something like, “I care about our relationship, so I want to be upfront that I need to limit social plans to once a week so I can recharge. I hope you understand.” This approach is more likely to be well-received than an accusatory one.
Give specific examples.
Don’t just say, “I need more support from you.” Give concrete examples of what that support could look like. For example, say, “I’m feeling stressed and could use some extra help. Would you be willing to bring me coffee or a meal once in a while, or call to chat for a few minutes?” The more specific you can be, the easier it is for others to meet your needs.
Check in regularly.
Expressing your needs is not a one-and-done conversation. Check in regularly to ensure your needs are still being met, and see if the other person has any needs of their own that you can fulfill. Say something like, “I wanted to see how you felt things were going with us. Are there any ways I can continue to support you?” These follow-up conversations help strengthen your connection and ability to care for one another.
Be willing to compromise.
Understand that relationships require reciprocity and compromise. While you should express what you need to feel happy and secure, you should also listen with an open mind to the other person’s needs and be willing to find solutions you’re both comfortable with. Healthy relationships are built on mutual understanding and a willingness to meet each other halfway.
What are some signs that I have unrealistic expectations in relationships?
1. You expect others to read your mind.
If you find yourself constantly disappointed that your partner or friends didn’t anticipate what you wanted or needed, this is a sign your expectations are unrealistic. No one can read your mind, so speak up and communicate your needs clearly. Don’t assume others know what you want; tell them.
2. You have a rigid view of how things “should” be.
Do you get upset when things don’t go exactly as you planned or envisioned? Having a fixed view of how relationships and interactions should unfold is a recipe for disappointment. Life is messy and unpredictable. Learn to go with the flow more and be open to imperfections. Flexibility and openness will lead to healthier relationships.
3. You depend on others for your happiness.
Relying on your relationships or interactions with others as the sole source of your good feelings is too much responsibility to put on people. Your happiness is your own responsibility. While relationships can enhance your life, you need to find fulfillment from within first. Make sure to also nurture your own interests and hobbies outside of your relationships.
4. You feel resentful or entitled.
If you frequently feel resentful, bitter, or entitled toward the people in your life, this points to unrealistic expectations. No one owes you anything or is responsible for your needs and wants. Check yourself to see if you’re keeping score or feel like you deserve more from others. Let go of resentment and express gratitude for what you do receive from your relationships. Entitlement will only breed unhappiness.
Adjusting unrealistic expectations requires self-reflection and a willingness to accept imperfections—in yourself, in others, and in life. But making this change can lead to healthier, happier relationships. Focus on open communication, flexibility, and finding fulfillment from within. Your relationships will thrive as a result.
How can I foster independence and self-reliance instead of relying on others?
To become more self-reliant, you need to stop expecting so much from others. This means taking responsibility for yourself and your own happiness instead of relying on what other people do or don’t do.
1. Focus on yourself.
Stop worrying so much about what others think of you or trying to please everyone else. Shift your focus inward and work on self-improvement. Pursue your own interests and hobbies, engage in regular self-care, and do things that boost your confidence from the inside out.
2. Handle your own problems.
Don’t expect others to solve issues for you or make decisions on your behalf. Take the initiative to find solutions to your own challenges. This could be as simple as doing your own research to resolve a technical problem or brainstorming ways out of a tricky situation. The more you do for yourself, the less you’ll rely on others.
3. Establish boundaries
Learn to say no in a polite yet firm manner. Don’t feel obligated to always be available when others want something from you. Make your own needs and priorities a priority. Boundaries are key to fostering self-reliance and independence.
4. Develop key skills.
Work on skills that allow you to do more for yourself, like basic home and vehicle repairs, cooking, budgeting, and time management. The more competent and confident you become in handling life’s demands, the less dependent you’ll feel on others. Independence is a skill that takes practice.
Stop expecting others to make you happy or meet your needs. Take back control of your own life by focusing on self-improvement, solving your own problems, establishing clear boundaries, and developing key skills. Make a habit of relying on yourself first before turning to others for help. Independence and self-reliance will follow.
What are the consequences of projecting your own qualities onto others?
When you expect certain behaviors, traits, and qualities from others that you yourself possess, it often leads to disappointment and frustration.
1. Unrealistic views
By projecting your own characteristics onto people around you, you are creating an unrealistic view of who they are and what they are capable of. Not everyone shares your strengths, values, and priorities. Expecting someone to react, respond, or behave in a certain way just because that is how you would do it is unfair and closes you off to understanding them as a unique individual.
When others fail to meet your projections, it can breed resentment, conflict, and damaged relationships. You may feel let down, betrayed, or like your trust has been broken when, in reality, the other person never signed up to fulfill those expectations in the first place. They are just being their authentic selves, for better or worse.
3. Lack of appreciation
On the flip side, by imposing your qualities onto others, you may fail to fully see, understand, and appreciate them for who they are. Every person is a complex, multi-dimensional being with both strengths and weaknesses, virtues and flaws. When you pigeonhole someone into a role of your own creation, you miss the opportunity to value them for the diverse, imperfect, perfectly imperfect humans that they are.
The healthiest relationships are based on accepting people as they are, not as you wish for them to be. Make an effort to see others clearly without the veil of expectations, and you’ll find deeper connections and less angst. Focus on understanding different perspectives instead of demanding others see the world through your lens. Open your mind to the richness of human diversity, and you’ll open your heart to more compassion and kindness along the way.
So stop expecting so much from others and start focusing on yourself. Stop waiting around for people to change and start making the changes you want to see. Take responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment instead of demanding it from those around you.
When you release the expectations you have of friends, family, and partners, you open yourself up to appreciate them for who they are. And you might just find that the relationships in your life become that much richer. The less you expect from others, the more you can enjoy them. So do yourself and everyone else a favor: let go of your expectations and start living in the present. Your happiness is your responsibility.
- 6 Ways to Stop Worrying About Things You Can’t Control – You’ll be much more effective when you put your time and energy into the things you can control.
- BY AMY MORIN, AUTHOR, “13 THINGS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE DON’T DO
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