Shawn Maxam explains why people’s expectations of others is really connected to something internal.
I don’t have expectations. Expectations in your life just lead to giant disappointments.
One of the most difficult aspects of having a mood disorder (or being a human being) is managing the amazing amount of arrogantly misguided advice people offer me daily. There is a certain lack of trust and implicit condescension in the way that people speak usually speak to each other.
It probably started when I was as a child. It seemed that I was always disappointing, angering and upsetting my mother just because she perceived that I was doing a task incorrectly. I would often try really hard to do things “the right way” and was only in adulthood I realized she was obsessed with me doing things her way. Unfortunately my mother’s communication skills were severely poor and she expected me and my sibling to just know the way things should be completed. I’m not referring to major activities where there is an absolutely proper method i.e. driving. It was rather simple chores i.e. sweeping or washing dishes. She would become so incensed that we didn’t use the exact amount of dish detergent. In hindsight I now know that my mom wasn’t being purposely vindictive or malicious. She was just repeating a cycle of poor parenting she learned when she was a child.
The above scenario is now being replayed in my daily interactions with adults who I consider my equals. When you are a child it is easier to accept people lashing out at you in either very passive-aggressive ways or emotionally harsh and vocally loud ways. I hate it when people make others feel guilty for their own emotional state. Especially if the accused isn’t being mean, unkind or inconsiderate. If the way I am doing a menial task is negatively affecting another person I have no control over his or her reactions. This is different from behavior which is the way I may interact with an individual. Shoveling snow can not be done obnoxiously while on the other-hand a person can behave obnoxiously and therein lies the difference.
We have to separate who people are from the way they do things. Both may overlap at times but are not inherently one in the same. A person may be a very kind individual but they are “bad” at cleaning the stove and other kitchen appliances. If the person puts maximum effort into the endeavor it does benefit me to get angry at them for not cleaning the refrigerator “properly”. It is very subjective and arbitrary task. It is not something honestly worth being dis-compassionate towards another person about.
For most of my adult life I ended up repeating the same mistakes as my mother. I would criticize other people for the way they did simple things. Not the way they chose to live their life or the belief systems they adhered to but rather silly things like the way in which they sat on the train would actually bother me. After my diagnosis I became self-reflective and soon realized that this was my issue and my problem and that my expectations of others were unrealistic and harmful. I soon realized I only could control myself and my disappointment about the little things were mine to own. If the task is that important then I will just do it myself but if I let someone do it then I should respect their time, effort and express my gratitude. It has immensely decreased the stress I constantly felt and the anger I carried around. This may not necessarily work for everyone but it is a perspective that has helped me tremendously.
In essence: don’t sweat the small stuff.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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