Yesterday I wrote about the disappointment we feel when others don’t measure up to our expectations of them, and what problems those expectations cause in our relationships if we don’t learn how to control them by giving them to God. But what about the expectations that others have of us. As we become aware of them they will create a growing pressure in us to please those with the expectations and conform to those expectations because of the displeasure they communicate to us when we disappoint. A major part of the problem is that we can’t succeed at pleasing them because we are only doing what is expected of us, and as we do succeed at meeting the expectations the bar is constantly being raised. Husbands and wives do this to each other without even thinking about it, parents do it to their kids in the name of good parenting, and bosses and supervisors do it in the name of successful business. These expectations which are seldom identified or acknowledged make us prisoners and jailers to each other in our relationships. An added problem is that we often have multiple people with expectations of our life, and they are different, one with this set, and another with a different set of expectations. Whooooeeeeee!! That is not a fun way to live. One way to deal with these expectations that others have of us is to simply rebel, throw a fit, let them know in no uncertain terms that we are not their slave. That method of escaping usually just destroys relationships, and hurts people.
Let me suggest half a dozen things to do when you find yourself in a jail that others have built around you one bar at a time, one expectation at a time, and you would really like to be free of this jail. First, acknowledge that your wife or whoever does have expectations of you that are unreasonable, dishonoring, and that you don’t like. Try to be as precise as possible in identifying them in your thinking. Don’t fret about them and make them bigger than they are. Expectations that others have of us are like a piece of sand in our shoe, they irritate and pretty soon it is all we can think about. Second remind yourself that they set these expectations without thinking about what they were doing, we all do it and we are seldom aware of it. If it isn’t a purposeful attempt to control your life it is harder to get upset and feel used and abused about it.
To be continued tomorrow