I got this question What to do when you don't know what you want? and…
Do you have expectations of your loved ones and don’t always express them?
Do you expect your partner, family member or friend to know what you want without telling them because you have such a long history together?
Do you tend to put others first and be a people pleaser?
Does a “never mind me” kind of thinking ring a bell for you?
I’m embarrassed to say that I definitely recognize all of these in me.
Recently, we received several questions and comments about the difference between making commitments and living up to other people’s expectations.
For me, an important point of difference is that commitments are conscious and commonly agreed with another person / people. As they are transparent and jointly agreed, they can be also referenced, discussed, renegotiated and dissolved.
Expectations, on the other hand, are often not clearly expressed (if expressed at all) and we may not even be conscious of the expectation. We aren’t always aware of what we expect from our lovers or friends or family members. For example, we might expect that they will contact us regularly, help when we are struggling, are willing to listen or say only “nice” or positive things about us. At the same time, the other person might have completely different expectations of us. When these expectations are not expressed and discussed, we can easily find ourselves in swamp of messy—and possibly unexpressed—disappointments and resentments.
Making requests is related to having expectations and is a bit different in nature. When we express and share what we want, it is no longer an expectation. Sharing what we want and asking for it is one of the most simple and powerful ways to create happiness and connection for ourselves. Happiness for us as we have a higher chance of receiving what we want. And happiness for the other person who might want to serve or support us. We can create connection via sharing what we want and by making ourselves vulnerable in doing so. When we ask for what we want, we do run the risk of hearing the response: “No.” And hearing “No” won’t kill us.
One less obvious point: I judge that trying to get what we want from another person without expressing to them what we are doing is a form of manipulation. And many times that goes hand in hand with people pleasing.
The mechanism is something like: “I know what’s best for you and I am not asking for much for myself so you should be grateful and you have no right to be angry at me ever. I am unselfish and a good person for having my whole focus on you rather than me.”
This kind of behavior or dynamic is exhausting and not much fun. Life gets serious for people-pleasers. So if you judge you are a people-pleaser, I propose you start to bring awareness to your patterns of manipulation and own up to your loved ones. Not because people-pleasing is bad or wrong, but because you are making yourself miserable with it and most likely people around you are pretty tired of it, too. (Or if they like it and it’s serving them in some way, I imagine you would benefit by working on the relationship dynamic between you two.)
Do you ask for what you want?
How do you stop yourself from asking for what you want?
Are you afraid of hearing a “No” or appearing “needy” to others?
I like asking for what I want and at times I still make doing so hard for myself, even with my husband and my son. Another thing I’m a big fan of is making agreements. I like the process and the outcomes. I increase my awareness of what I want and what is important to me during the process of making agreements. Especially in my romantic relationship, commitments have been powerful for me. At the moment, with me and Pete being in separate countries, I’ve found our commitment to be in touch every day very important. I also like our commitment to share with each other whatever we consider important or upsetting—especially the things we don’t want to say to the other.
I made a video about the difference between living up to expectations and making commitments, and another one focusing on expectations and asking for what you want and people pleasing – see below! I invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’re currently adding new videos on different honesty themes every week including more on this topic! Tell us also what topic you want to hear about.
We wish you all the best in these unusual times.
Keep asking for what you want!