Expecting The Unexpected
"Expectation is the thief of all joy", or is it, "Expectation is the root of all evil"? Let's talk about expectations and boundaries. How do you feel about them? Are you experiencing romantic relationships where there's a lot of co-dependency, and you don't know where you end and your partner begins? Maybe you have friendships where you feel walked on and bulldozed and most of your energy is spent catering to one person's needs. What about at work? Do you resent your position or even your co-workers because you've taken on more work than your capacity can hold?
Learning to get a handle on communicating boundaries and maybe even adjusting your expectations of others is an incredibly effective way to find more balance in the relational aspects of your life. It may be daunting or intimidating to think about how to set them and still feel like you're coming from a place of love. It's important to a lot of us to feel accepted and sometimes setting boundaries can make us fearful of whether people will like or accept us.
I want to talk about a less painful, more objective way to think about these ideas. It would be an understatement to say the world is undergoing change right now. Of course, there are beautiful innovations emerging whose goals are to help and uplift people. But there are also large scale, sometimes frightening changes, like military invasion and international conflict. If you've read anything I've written before, then you already know that change is inevitable and happening all the time, including and especially within you and the people around you. This is natural. Your relationships will change and so too, should you be evolving.
This is where expectations come in. What if these were the only expectations you held in your relationships--that change is constant and that you should EXPECT that this change will cause conflict. I'm not talking about standards for how you'd like to be treated. Those are critical as welI. I mean beginning to undoubtedly know that change, discomfort, uncertainty, and often conflict will happen in your relationships. That is not something to be afraid of, but rather to get practice in responding to in a healthy and generative way. It's from this perspective that we can make sure to build strong boundaries regarding our own ability to engage with changing dynamics.
For example, think of a friendship that you may be having a difficult time with right now. What could your friendship look like if instead of expecting your friend to act in a certain way, you first expected that the changes going on in the world could be contributing to your friend's curious actions. Maybe the difficulties are showing up as behaving erratically or co-dependently, or maybe even lashing out or going ‘radio-silent’. How the actions or behaviors manifest doesn't really matter, because having expectations around the inevitability of change rather than a person, allows you to focus on your response over anything else. Your responsibility to that expectation then becomes to have a standard of what kind of interactions you'll participate in as well as a plan for how to communicate through the discomfort or perhaps disengage when the boundary has been compromised too much.
Here's an offer to approach the concepts of expectations and boundaries in relationships:
- Expect that you and those around you will change or at least be affected by it. This will reflect in both of your behaviors in some way.
- Have boundaries in place for what behavior YOU will and won't engage with.
- Learn how to communicate about this in an upfront and transparent way. Have a plan (get professional assistance if needed) for communicating when your boundary has been crossed, what you'll need to move forward, or even that you may need to end the relationship.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg; these things take practice. If you'd like to work through more of this with me and our team, visit www.equilibriumbalance.com. Let’s get it sorted together.
Guest Blogger and Founder of Equilibrium: A Center for Restorative Wellness