It’s not them, it’s you.

Scrolling through Facebook I can guarantee that I will see at least one person complaining that they do so much for others, yet when they need help no one is around. At work you can bet I will hear at least one person complaining about how a co-worker responded or didn’t respond to them (I am guilty of this). How many times have you assumed that a family member would automatically step in and help with something and they didn’t? How many times have you shared something with someone that you think is really awesome and they didn’t respond the way that you expected with your same enthusiasm? I think that it is safe to say that we have all been guilty of these things at least once in life. Are we expecting too much from one another? Should we expect anything at all? 

Let’s start with the person who apparently has the worst friends on the planet. According to their Facebook posts I would gather that they have super needy friends that they are always helping who bail as soon as their assistance is needed. It stinks when you need help and no one jumps at the bait to save the day, I get it, I really do. Hear me out though, when you did the favor were doing it with the expectation that the favor be returned? Likely the answer is no. So why expect something in return when you need help? Were the terms laid out from the beginning? “I’ll pick up your dry cleaning, but you have to watch my kids when I have to run an errand.”  Probably not, you likely did it with a smile and took pleasure in helping someone else because you’re a good friend. But wait, why don’t they do the favor that you ask and be a good friend in return? Well, maybe they can’t. It is easy to look at the black and white, but what about the grey area that you don’t see. What if they are privately going through something and it was all they could do to get out of bed that day. That would make dropping everything to go let your dog out for you a lot more difficult. Chances are if you are continuously coming to their aid they likely do not have a full glass to pour from, making your seemingly minor request a huge deal to them. Even more, if  your request is child care and they are struggling mentally or they are exhausted they know that they are not fit to take on that duty. Don’t take it personal, we are all going through something. I know it may seem that way, but your problems are not greater than theirs, to them they are huge.   

We all have that co-worker who thinks that they have far more power than they actually do, it’s frustrating. Maybe it’s the way that they speak to you or try to boss you around, either way it’s infuriating. I, personally, deal with one or two of these at work and I let them anger me EVERY TIME.  But, why? As I grow my emotional intelligence I have been looking at more at why someone exhibits a certain behavior rather than how it made me feel. (This is super helpful in marriage by the way) I look at actual leaders in my company and they do not make me feel this way ever. It’s not because I excuse the behavior because of their title, but because they don’t feel the need to exhibit their seniority. In fact, the only people who do this usually do not possess any actual power at all. I am a believer that our behavior is shaped largely by our insecurities. We use defense mechanisms to protect our precious egos which make us come off has huge jerks when in reality we are full of insecurities. So maybe, just maybe, that lady that thinks she’s everyone’s boss and pushes her work off on you is made to feel inferior by someone else. Maybe that person makes her feel so bad about herself that she uses her perceived dominance in relationships with others to regain her confidence. Is it right? No, but we are all human and make human mistakes. I have no advice on how to end the cycle so if you’ve got something lay it on me. I really enjoy what I do and it’s a shame that I allow someone to take that pleasure from me. I need to work on that.

This used to be a big one for me with my husband. I would just assume that he would anticipate my needs and do the thing that I expected him to do and felt a huge disappointment when he didn’t. Then for some reason, one day something in me clicked. Did I ask him to do the thing or did I expect him to read my mind, think exactly as I think, and anticipate my needs? I expected him to read my mind. So he is going about his business like everything is great and he is this wonderful husband while I am sitting there disappointed or even worse I express my frustration out loud making him feel lousy. What has he done wrong though? In his mind absolutely nothing, while I am over here fuming that he didn’t do X, Y, and Z. Shouldn’t he know this? I would do it for him! But here is the key: I NEVER ASKED. The same goes for any person in your life. I have caught myself plenty times saying “well you would have thought they would have done this.” No, I would have done that, but they aren’t me. We are a product of our childhoods, our environment, our peers, and our life experiences of which no two journeys have been the same. They can not possibly share the exact same thoughts because we did not live identical lives. So when you feel let down by someone that failed to do what you expected, ask yourself “did I ask them to do this or did I expect them to anticipate my needs?” If it is the latter, give them a break, they are only human after all.

I say all of this because I feel that if we let go of our expectations of others we will all be a little happier. If you think about it, who are we to expect something of another human anyway? It is very easy to say “well I would have done it this way” or “I would have thought you would have done this.” However, It is not easy to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and figure out why they did or didn’t do something because you don’t know everything that is going through their head. Let’s maybe give each other the benefit of the doubt and think about how we would receive the things that we say to others. It is so easy to snap at someone or pass judgement, however it is not easy to sit and take that same criticism that we are dishing out. Can you take what you are giving out? Can you live up to the standards that you hold others to? If not, maybe it’s time to stop focusing on how others are failing you and focus on kindness and understanding. Trust me I am looking directly in the mirror while typing this…figuratively. (My typing skills are not that advanced.) 

2 thoughts on “It’s not them, it’s you.

  1. One of my favorite life lessons: “Expectations are premeditated disappointments.” [Expectations are resentments under construction.] Having expectations of things out of your control (other people and what they do/don’t do) is setting yourself up to be let down so rather than worrying about the future by setting up expectations live in the moment and appreciate what is. Let life and the people in your life surprise you, it’ll bring you joy and satisfaction. You are definitely heading in a healthy and positive direction in identifying that you have to voice your wants and needs for someone else to know what they are.

    Advice on your coworker situation depends on a lot of variables and office dynamics but in any case being direct and letting the person know that you don’t appreciate how they are treating you or talking to you shows them that you are willing to stand up for yourself (a lot of people will push others around just because they can and no one calls them on it) and it puts the issue front and center so you can find a resolution and not be ignored (which could happen if you try a more subtle route). Keep your tone of voice in mind so you don’t come across defensive or on the attack, just matter of fact. No matter what happens though you always have control over your thoughts and feelings (it gets easier with practice) and you can use those situations to learn how to reframe your thinking to a positive takeaway or just let go of the negative and not letting it affect you. It is hard and takes time but eventually it becomes second nature, you’re doing great.


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