There must be something in the water at the moment. We are in some sort of crossroads where people are reflecting on their relationships and the value of those relationships in their lives. In the last few weeks I feel I have had very similar conversations with multiple people all about disappointments we have experienced with other people because of expectations we have placed on them because of what we would be willing to do for them.
We might get upset if someone doesn’t agree with our idea. We might get upset if that person didn’t read our minds the same way we feel we do theirs. We might get upset if that person doesn’t call just to check in on us the way we do for them. We might get upset if that person doesn’t seem to share the same approach to catch ups or demonstrating their excitement for us when something big happens in our lives. We expect that because we would do it for them that naturally they would in return.
If you are doing things for others only because you expect the same in return, then you’ve got it all wrong. You’ll always feel jipped. Why? Two things.
1) You’re doing business, not practising kindness when you do something only to expect it to be done for you in return. Don’t think you do this? Take 5 minutes and think about the last time someone disappointed you. Was somewhere in that feeling of disappointment did you recall a list of times in your mind when you have done things for them and therefore why could they not reciprocate? Be honest with yourself here.
2) We are all different. We all have different values and what one person might think is a fair and reasonable thing to do for someone, isn’t always aligned with someone else’s belief.
In a blog post I wrote nearly 12 months ago now (but boy is every word of it still true!), I was reflecting on things I wish I knew years ago. Things that would have saved me alot of pain, tears and stress. One of them was this.
“Don’t do things for people on the basis that you expect they will for you in return. Everyone is different and if you’re only doing something for someone in the hope you will receive it back, when it doesn’t happen, you’ll just be resentful for something you expected from them, that was ultimately self-serving and that they may not even be aware of.”
This is your fault, not theirs.
If you want to know what the other 9 things I know now are, check them out by clicking here .
Here are some of the common things I see and hear from people in terms of what we expect of others. Do any of them sounds familiar to you?
I expect you to know what I am thinking the way I try to do for you
I expect you to do the same favour for me that I was prepared to do for you
I expect you to be happy for me the way I was for you
I expect you to like me because I like you
I expect you to agree with me or my idea, because I agreed with yours.
We might not say these things outright, but these are the thoughts, the emotions that run around in our minds when we experience the feeling like someone has let us down.
You know what all of these statements have in common? There is so much “I” in them. Its not actually about the other person at all, it is about you. At the very root of the disappointment or the sadness of feeling someone hasn’t reciprocated your kindness is ego.
When we do things for others only because we want something in return – maybe not now, but someday, we aren’t practising kindness at all, we are simply trying to mask a business transaction as kindness. When we do things for others only to expect it in return, we aren’t genuine.
Above all else, its exhausting! Do things for yourself or for others because you WANT to. Without expectation, without conditions, without a future favour in your back pocket. Just do it because you want to. Help a colleague – because you can. Support a friend – because you can. Like someone – because you can and you genuinely do, not because you hope they like you in return.
Put simply – do not expect anything from anyone, ever. Instead, be grateful for the kindness when it comes your way.
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