Expectations can kill something before it’s ever born. A relationship, a career, or even what relief we can get out of something created to reduce our stress. Expectations are a natural part of planning the future, but I think we do it wrong. We create our expectations by thinking through how we see something and then telling ourselves how it’ll work out…but since we don’t know the future, why are we so arrogant to create expectations for how it will happen? The answer comes down to how we see ourselves.

Tendencies inform who we are. They inform how we live. They even inform how others will see us and prepare their own expectations for us. Tendencies are nothing more than what we will “tend” to do in a given situation, but human beings like things to fit into boxes which means we’ll attribute tendencies to areas that they might not fit. If you see someone cry after losing their phone you might think they have a tendency to be sad when they don’t have a way to communicate with friends…but what you might not know is that their phone contained the last messages from a friend who is now gone. Context is the most important thing in determining tendencies, but since we don’t tend to have the full context we form what we think people’s tendencies are without it. Why? The answer comes down to how we see others.

See, the most important thing in this world is how you choose to interact with the people around you, and it almost always comes down to one thing: Do you believe them to be less important than you, equal to you, or more important than you? If you believe yourself to be more important, even if you don’t admit it, you’ll more-quickly set expectations for how the relationships will work, and more-quickly determine tendencies that you think they’ll follow. It’s what our brains want to do, and it’s easy to do it quickly if you don’t find it important to treat them as individuals. If what happens to you is more important than what happens to others, even the most well-intentioned decisions will not improve the lives around you as much as they’ll improve your own.

If, however, you find the lives of others as important or more important than your own, you’ll more rarely set expectations for how those relationships will work because you understand that they’re individuals who have their own lives and struggles. You’ll take much longer to determine tendencies that you think they’ll follow because you understand that there’s context to every decision. If what happens to others is more important than what happens to you, even the most lazy and selfish decisions will improve the lives around you as much or more than they’ll improve your own.

People notice how much they’re cared for. People notice how much they’re loved by others. When they do, they will tend to believe that your decisions are for their good and, even when things go south, they’ll understand that there are reasons why things don’t always work out.

I want to be a person that loves others unconditionally, because I’m not that person and I’ve seen how it hurts others. I want to be an example of how to put others first, because I believe if everyone did our world would be a very different place. Let’s stop setting expectations for how we want relationships in our lives to go. Let’s stop putting people in boxes based on how we think they’ll act or react to things.

Let’s put the well-being of others first – the worst thing that can happen is it makes people feel better.