Are people living down to your expectations?
I’ve had an interesting experience the last few weeks, with the opportunity to observe the impact of differing expectations on one of my children. As for many young people, educational expectations suddenly changed. To my surprise, apparently so did her skill and capability. How so?
Through observing the shift of context, I learned that my daughter had very much been performing to the standards being expected of her. She was unconsciously fitting right in with what she thought was wanted and needed. When the expectations changed suddenly and significantly, so did she. It has been a revelation to notice how much more capability and capacity she displays, simply because expectations and assumptions shifted and different things are now asked for.
This got me wondering about what it is I expect not only from my kids, but also from people in relationships more generally. Where have I got into grooves of habit and pattern, where low expectations both ways prevail, and where the same old dynamics get replicated again and again? Where might I open a dialogue about what is happening, and wanted? Frankly, where might I give, and expect, more?
These relational themes are ones that come up again and again in therapeutic work. In any long term relationship, be it romantic, family or friendship, we base our expectations of current and future behaviour on what has happened in the past. And yet, we are not static, we are all in a continual process of change and becoming, and we are often capable now of so much more than we were way back when.
I’ve been giving myself a bit of a shake-down, considering how I show up in the relationships I care about, and reflecting both on what expectations I want to have of myself, and what my requests to others are. It’s a bit of a spring-clean I guess, clearing out cobwebs and making sure each relationship receives the love and attention it deserves.
This spring, what would you like to begin flowering in the relationships that matter to you? And which weeds need pulling before they do harm? How might you begin?