How to Let Go of Others’ Expectations and Still Move Forward

by Sudarsan

It is often said that there are two parts to genuine authenticity: being true to who you are and letting go of expectations others place on you. It’s that second part that so many people find challenging. They want to let go but they cannot seem to accomplish it.

First, letting go of others’ expectations is not a one-off thing. It’s an ongoing process. Furthermore, it takes practice. You learn the basic principles and then put them into play. Time and repetition make it easier to let go of expectations with each passing day.

If you are struggling to let go of others’ expectations and still move forward, you are not alone. The rest of this post offers information you might find helpful in your journey. As you read, keep an open mind. That’s one of the unspoken secrets of genuine authenticity.

Accept the Reality of Expectations

You might struggle because you mistakenly believe that others should not have expectations. But before you can learn to let go of such expectations, you need to accept that they exist – and always will. Every human being has expectations. You have them – of yourself and others. It is part of being human.

Think of it like rain. You may wish you lived in a place where there was no rain. You can wish that all day long, but you will never find such a place. Even the driest places on Earth get at least some rain. It is better to just accept that it rains and move on with life. The rain will bother you less if you stop obsessing over it.

Expectations are very similar. Other people will always have expectations of you. Accept that fact and move on. Stop wishing they didn’t, or you’ll never learn to let go.

Recognize Situational Circumstances

Successfully letting go of others’ expectations requires recognizing situational circumstances. To put it in simple terms, certain circumstances dictate certain behaviors. Your task is to determine which expectations are necessary and which ones are not.  Conforming to office culture is an excellent example.

The founder of the Plurawl LatinX clothing brand started his company after realizing he could not be his authentic self in the workplace. He decided that the expectations of his company’s culture were not necessary for him to make a living. Had he decided to remain there, he would have needed to adapt to company culture. But he chose to start his own company instead. He recognized situational circumstances and made his choice accordingly.

Determine Situational Goals

Just as there are situational circumstances to be aware of, there are also situational goals. What do you hope to achieve within a given environment or situation? Any expectations not directly related to your goals can be dismissed. All the rest should be assessed according to circumstances. Let go of those expectations that are either contrary to your goals or do not actually help you reach them. It doesn’t matter that someone else expects you to behave a certain way. You need to be true to who you are in order to achieve the desired goal.

In all of this, it is important to be prepared for some amount of negativity. Letting go of others’ expectations is rarely an exercise in smooth sailing. Whether it creates emotional trauma in you or elicits negative reactions from others, letting go creates friction. Over time, the friction should subside.

Letting go of others’ expectations might not be easy, but it is well worth the effort. Keep working at it until you reach that place you want to be in.

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