If you have experienced a good amount of rejection and hurts in your life, I want to say I’m sorry. Life is hard, people are complicated, and relationships are often messy. Many times, the hurts that I have experienced in my life came from having expectations on another person. I’m going to be gut level honest here. I’ve been counseling hundreds of people for over thirty years. I KNOW what to do when I am hurt. But there was a season in my life when I would get so angry if someone said to me, “Rebekah, you had an expectation.” I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs, “Of course I had an expectation! Anyone would expect that their friend would not behave in that way?” It felt like they were telling me to not breathe when they said to not have an expectation.
We all have relational personalities. For me, I am extremely loyal, so it’s hard for me to understand a friendship that does not have loyalty. I also need to understand that my definition of loyalty and another person’s definition of loyalty could be different.
Misunderstandings happen all the time in relationships. One of the things that has caused me pain is my lack of confidence in having a healthy confrontation. If things get swept under the rug you WILL trip over it eventually. I also felt intense shame because I cared so much about my relationships. I remember saying, “I know I look needy, but I am NOT needy.” I’ll never forget the day I had a foreign thought that I believe was the Lord. “Rebekah, you are needy. I created human beings to have needs. Don’t be ashamed that you care so much. I know you were not allowed to have feelings growing up but it’s okay to have your feelings.” It’s what you do with your feelings that makes the difference.” I felt validated!
So that was the first step in letting go of my expectations. Admitting I cared deeply, and it was okay. (Shame makes you want to hide.) Voicing my feelings is half the battle for me. Learn to be honest and say things like:
“I miss you.”
“I felt hurt when you said _______.”
“It feels like you don’t have time for me anymore.”
“I feel like we need to talk about our relationship. I care about you, and I don’t want unspoken expectations to destroy our relationship.”
Second, I had to learn the difference between a desire and an expectation. We all have desires and that is perfectly fine. But when your desire has turned into a demand (we feel we must have it) we will be miserable. Pain is our red flag that a desire has turned into an expectation. We can then willingly lay it down.
How do I do that? It’s a choice. Laying down an expectation is just like forgiveness. Your emotions can be kicking and screaming but you can choose to say, “I forgive you. I release you from the debt you owe me. (I give up being the judge, the jury, and the executioner) Also, I desire for this to happen in our relationship, but I lay down my perceived right for it to happen.
Why would I do that? Because forgiveness and laying down a right is for you. Can you really change the other person? These choices are not for the other person. These choices are for you and will bring you peace. Let me remind you that forgiveness does not mean it’s okay that the person did what they did. It’s just saying I’m not going to try to make you pay any longer. (Sometimes it’s necessary to place a boundary in the relationship or even end a toxic relationship.)
Making it simple (but not always easy):
- Be honest with your feelings.
- Talk with the person about your struggles.
- Be prepared that they may not see it the same way. You are talking to them to honor your heart, not to convince them to see things the way you see them.
- Be willing to change. Maybe something about your perspective needs to be tweaked.
- It takes two to have a conflict. Therefore, everybody has a percentage in the cause.
- Sometimes you must agree to disagree. Talk about where you both want the relationship to go from this day forward.
- Give people time for their hearts to heal. You may say. “Can we talk about this again in a few weeks? I don’t want to lose this relationship.”
- Know that you will be okay even if the relationship cannot be salvaged. We grow when we are in pain. As I stated at the beginning of this blog. Life is hard, people are complicated, and relationships are often messy.
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