One of my good friends and colleagues, Rosanna and I were having a discussion about how people in relationships get into trouble when they have unrealistic expectations. I pondered this concept and thought of so many of my clients who have NO expectations for fear of being disappointed in themselves or others. When we don't know who we are and have no measurement for healthy relationships, by default we accept all things (good and bad) and must react to everyone after the bad things have happened to us. This leaves us in a constant state of victimization as we are unable to identify and protect ourselves from anyone's poor behaviors and evil intentions.
Two hypothetical examples are;
Sandra was pushed by her employer to fill multiple positions and work outside of her job description, which created an unrealistic expectation she was forced to accomplish. When Sandra felt overwhelmed and unable to meet the task, she informed her boss, but was dismissed and ordered to continue and was given even more work. When Sandra collapsed at work, and later was put on leave of absence due to a mental break-down, she felt "guilty," because she could not accomplish what was expected of her.
Karen is a single mother going through cancer treatment and has a 35 year-old son. Her son makes a choice in his marriage to abuse his wife which results in his being arrested. Karen's son becomes angry and curses at her when she tells him he is responsible for his choices. Karen's friends and other family members verbally attack her for choosing to not help her son, and reluctantly, she feels guilted into allowing him to stay with her and ultimately pays for his legal fees.
2 "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;
Avoid such men as these."
2 Timothy 3:2-5
The sad truth is Sandra didn't know how to protect herself from the unrealistic needs of her employer, and Karen didn't know how to protect herself from the unrealistic expectations of her friends and family. The result is they both gave of themselves, their finances, and their health until they have nothing left to give--all in an effort to please everyone else and avoid their feelings of guilt.
I love the Bible because the above scripture from 2 Timothy 3:2-5 lays it out so plainly that people will be "lovers of self" and will do that which is pleasing to them, even if it causes pain and suffering to another. But look at the last line which contains the solution to this problem: "Avoid such men as these." People like the ones listed above want all the pleasure, but don't want the consequences. It's the negative affects of their choices they want you to fix FOR them so they don't have to suffer. The problem occurs when you accept their problems (consequences) and try to solve them that you end up feeling overwhelmed, angry, and resentful. The Apostle Paul tells us how to respond to these people,
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.
Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching."
2 Timothy 4:2
If you look at the photo at the top of this blog, it offers you 4 steps or "agreements" to use in relationships and can assist you in avoiding guilt trips put on you by other's unrealistic expectations. If you follow these 4 guidelines, and the other person or situation is resistant to change, then you have done all you're responsible for and the problem is not yours to solve.
Let the problems remain with the person who created them and you'll be happier in your own life.