We all know how it feels when the needs and expectations of others squeeze us.
We can’t volunteer for that fundraiser. We don’t call or write to that loved one as often as we feel we should. We can’t keep the house clean enough, the fridge full enough, or the calendar empty enough!
Expectations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is how we feel when we don’t meet them—downright lousy! None of us want to let others down. We can get pretty stressed out when we do.
But sometimes we need to know that we might, and that’s okay. Other times, we need to get honest with ourselves because it’s our own expectations that we can’t meet.
So, on this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, we’re talking through the expectation temptation so we can live free! You’ll learn how to get the facts, prioritize, and be realistic. You’ll gain practical help on what you need so you can move from failure mode to freedom mode!
3 Ways to Get Rid of Unrealistic Expectations
- Get the facts. Feeling like you don’t meet expectations isn’t always the same as failing to meet expectations. Feelings aren’t always facts. You may feel like you aren’t meeting expectations, but is that feeling based on a fact? If you’re not sure, ask those whom you value, “Am I meeting your expectation?” Get the facts, and then base your feelings on facts.
The fact may be that your people are totally fine with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Sometimes we have high expectations for ourselves and superimpose them on others. You may expect more from yourself than your people actually expect from you. That’s when you need to adjust your expectation based on the facts.You can’t meet everyone’s expectations. Consider whose expectations you need to prioritize first. [Click to Tweet]
But it’s also possible that you may find out that you aren’t meeting others’ expectations. That’s when you need to keep being honest and discern if they have unrealistic expectations or if you really have dropped the ball. You can encourage the people you value to adjust their expectations, or you can change yours. Honesty is the key. We need to step into the grace zone with the people in our lives and be honest. Find out what’s important to them and tell them the truth about what’s important to you and then work it out.
- Prioritize. Discern whose expectations you should be meeting most. Everyone will love you and have a wonderful plan for your life, but their plan may not be the best plan for you. What someone else thinks is a good idea may not be the best reality for you, or it may not even be possible.
Consider whose expectations you most need to prioritize: spouse, friend, boss, or yourself? All are important, but if they’re all equally important, then none of them get shown the importance they deserve.
As you discern this, you may realize that it is less about prioritizing and more about boundary setting. The truth is that sometimes we need to recognize that we will disappoint someone. It’s inevitable! Pray about your priorities and choose whose expectations you must meet and who you’ll help learn how to handle not getting their way all the time!
You can’t meet everyone’s expectations every single time they have one, so choose whose you will and whose you won’t. My mom always says, “I would rather turn you down than let you down.” Such a gracious way to manage the expectations of others.
- Be realistic. Extend the same grace to yourself that you do to others. When someone doesn’t meet your expectations, do you fall apart, disown them, or decide your life is over? Of course not! You understand that everyone has limits, and no one is perfect. You, too, have limitations, and you aren’t perfect either. So, do your best, but give yourself grace.
Also, have realistic expectations for yourself regardless of what others may have for you. Be real with yourself and with others. When you’re honest, it will not only help you deal with expectations realistically, but it will also help someone else who may be struggling with the same thing too.
Ultimately, there is only One we need to please when meeting expectations: God Himself. He has realistic expectations for you. He expects you to receive and give the grace He offers. He expects you to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). And, He expects you to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). He really does guide you into wisdom and empowers you to do all things He calls you to do.
Friend, when it comes to others’ expectations, here’s your review: get the facts, prioritize, and be realistic. Let’s be done with feeling downright lousy and feel downright liberated instead! Okay?
And remember, whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
Links Mentioned in This Episode
- Mushroom Coffee
- Can I Learn to Say No? [Episode 90]
- Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and World Collide? by Andy Stanley