One of the biggest topics that comes up when speaking with people is relationships. Whether it be about finding the right person, feeling the butterflies, knowing when to move on or wondering how things are supposed to feel, relationships seem to be not only something we enjoy, but also something we base a lot of our happiness on at times.
Putting a lot of stake in our relationships can often lead us to obsess, be on an emotional roller coaster, miss out on focusing on ourselves and set ourselves up for disappointment. Hands down one of the biggest factors that causes relationship struggles once certain areas of concern are explored is expectations. In my view, a lot of self-help books and belief systems have created a counter productive method for dealing with relationships as they often touch on topics like sacrifice, honouring yourself, and fulfilling a list of qualities you think your partner should have. Unfortunately this type of exploration doesn’t get to the core issue as to why we are having struggles with relationships and instead are temporary solutions to the issue.
For example, how many times have we read that when one partner does something that doesn’t fulfill our needs we must honor ourself by retaliating back in some manner only to later find out that our needs were based on expectations to begin with? What about when we are told to write out a list of things or qualities a partner should have so that we don’t end up with someone who doesn’t fit what our idea of a good partner is? Does this not suggest expectations once again? Of course this can likely be why we end up dating the same type of person over and over again as well, because when we don’t learn our lessons and we continue to attract the same thing over and over.
The purpose of relationships can be viewed in a number of ways, but in simple form, they are a means to share life with others on this planet. Different experiences, different roles, different lengths, there is no set definition for what a relationships looks like so it’s tough to say how one should be. Relationships can supply us with great times, tough times and anything in between, but most often, relationships provide us with growth, even though we don’t always view it this way.
I’ve been through it a number of times myself over the course of my life. Playing with the ideas of what a relationship should be like or should look like based on what we have always been told about relationships and what the “cloud 9” mushy loves stories look like in movies. Here is what I came to learn in my own experience about relationships…
I believe that at the end of the day, expectations are quite possibly the one thing that hinders our ability to be at peace not just in life but in our relationships as well. We expect that our partners should act a certain way, think like we do, do certain things for us, or respond to things we do for them in a particular way. We expect that at certain points in a relationship certain things should happen, or that certain things should feel a certain way and if they do then great, if they don’t UH OH! How many people have read an internet column or Cosmo magazine and found their relationship advice is just a series of stories and beliefs that set you up for having a boatload of expectations? All of these expectations are nothing more than someone else’s ideas of what a relationship should be like. Maybe it’s time to re-think the advice?
When you begin by kicking out expectations as best as you can, you will begin to notice your relationships being very different right away. No longer will you find yourself in the past or future hoping or reminiscing that things should have been a certain way. You no longer will be trying to look for and read a situation but instead will be in the moment enjoying whatever happens for what it is. By not expecting we allow ourselves to love whatever happens instead of judging it and categorizing it as good or bad. We save ourselves a lot of heartache and ultimately live a much more peaceful and expansive life. We can never control what another does, so why try so hard to make them be a certain way or expect them to be certain way? Would you want someone doing that to you?
To kick expectations it just comes down to looking at you, your actions and your thoughts. Ask yourself questions about why you might be sad, upset, worried or concerned about what is happening in a particular situation within any relationship you have. Is it based on your own ideas of how things should be? Are you not allowing the person to be who they are? Are you judging them? Judging the situation? Any time you reflect and observe in this manner, you get to the core of what your expectations are all about and then you can choose not to give them power. With more practice, your mind and emotions won’t jump to responding due to your expectations.
While expectations are a huge first step, there are a few more things/ steps within removing expectation that we can look out for in order to gain clarity on our relationships.
1. Learn to Love Yourself – In relationships we often look to them to fulfill a lack of love we have for ourselves. They can often times distract us from facing the inner sadness we have about our lack of self-love or self acceptance and when our partner is not doing something we expect, we respond out of a lack of self-love. Essentially, we are pointing the blame outwards.
2. Remove the categorizing and judging of everything that happens – It is easy to get caught up in the mind about almost anything with relationships. Did he/she say that with a tone? What did they mean by that? Why didn’t they do that? Shouldn’t this have been this way? We can look at almost any situation and judge or categorize it as right or wrong within a relationships and when we do we go right back to expectations. Avoid the judgement and allow things to be what they are.
3. See the ‘perfection’ in the relationship as it is – When you view challenges within relationship as ‘perfect’ for the situation, you allow yourself to remain in the moment and see things for what they are for both parties. By perfect I don’t mean if you are in an abusive relationship it means you have to stay, but, it does present a situation that we can learn from an ultimately transform whether it mean confronting the issue or learning to step away. Often times it is the perfect combination of things to have both people get the lessons and growth they need so they can move past needing to play with all of the stories and beliefs behind expectations. the more we see the perfection, the more we allow and are at peace with why things are the way they are.
4. Let go of trying to control everything – Trying to control the relationship or manipulate it is another way to get stuck in not only your own expectations of the relationship but also in hindering the natural flow of the relationship. Usually when we want to control the relationship, it is due to some insecurity we have within ourselves. Whether we fear being lonely or getting hurt, letting go control is a sure fire way to allow the relationship to flow as it needs to and face whatever challenges may arise from within yourself.
As you learn to control your own ego, emotional states and expectations surrounding your relationships, you will be naturally creating more peace in your life and the relationship in general. You are not able to control exactly what another does so let that go and simply be. If you want to find joy in your life and relationships, do your part and let the rest fall into place.
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