Expectations. We all have them of the people we care about. These expectations are often the most tested when we are going through a rough time. Perhaps we lost a loved one, are caring for an ill family member, or lost our job, we expect that those people close to us will step up and reach out. But this isn’t always the case. And we get hurt. We often immediately go to the default of evaluating our relationship with that person: “But I did all these things for her when her mother was ill”, “I connected her to two valuable contacts when she lost her job” or “Why is she now not helping me or even reaching out?”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when managing your expectations around relationships:
- Giving is not about receiving. And in normal circumstances, you are probably not necessarily even expecting anything in return. But when you are going through a rough time, our closest relationships often come under a microscope and we assess these relationships in a different way. In these situations, we expect people to behave the way that we do, but the reality is that we are all different and thus behave and react in different ways, especially in a stressful or uncomfortable situation.
- It’s not about you, it’s about them. This can sound like a bit of al cliché, but it is true. We don’t really know what is going on in someone else’s life. Perhaps they are dealing with their own serious issues or they feel awkward and don’t know how to reach out to you, or they are being selfish. Either way, this is not about you. They may be doing the best that they can.
- Let it go. Accept people for who they are and recognize that this moment is about you and how you handle the situation to limit the extra stress during an already very challenging time. Holding the burden of resentment only impacts you in the end.
- The only thing you can adjust is your point of view. You can’t change someone’s behavior or actions. The only thing you have control of is you, and how you relate to the people around you.
- And lastly, in future situations when you want to reach out and support someone else, always think about what you would do, not what the other person would and follow your gut and do it (even if it is someone who has let you down in the past). You will always feel good about your decision.