Standards to bear–or not?

Last week, I wrote about the common human misperception that everyone around us shares our world view. When we believe that others think like we do, we stumble into dangerous territory, full of land mines of expectation.

You may recognize this thinking glitch in your own life. We expect others to hold themselves to the same standards that we enforce for our own behavior. “That idiot driver–he should use his turn signal.” “My mother should want the best for me–not be competitive and threatened.” “My friend should say thank you.” “My partner should put some thought into what would make me happy.” “The kids’ dad should play with them when he has them, not park them in front of a movie.” Who says?

Yes, in an ideal world, we would surround ourselves with people who acted just as we strive to act. What happens when reality hits, and many we encounter simply don’t behave in the way we would? It’s a certain recipe for frustration and anger.

In this situation, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and release that expectation. The standards are in your head. The target of your frustration can’t hear–or maybe does not adhere to–those rules in your head. Short of learning Jedi skills to instill the desired thoughts in that person’s head, you really have little control over them. But you do have control over your thoughts–that the party in question “should” (fill in the blank.) That’s all you can control–your expectation of others.

To release that expectation, try saying “huh–imagine thinking that way.” No time to judge; that judgement only fuels your anger. The situation just is. What other people expect of themselves is none of our business. Expect others to be who they are, to act according to the rules in their own heads. That’s what they’re going to do anyway. When you switch your own thinking, you can then either a) ask them to do it differently, in a very direct manner or b) realize that there can be any number of acceptable approaches to the problem at hand.

Control what you can: the thoughts in your head. Let go of the rest. That’s truly the full scope of your influence, after all.

But if you locate a Jedi mind training course, let me know. I’ll be right in line, signing up with you.

2 thoughts on “Standards to bear–or not?

  1. Vivienne McNeny says:

    Getting into someone else’s head…
    I’m trying to teach my daughter that. She is battling with the long distance thing and what boils down to,
    “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…”
    only in innocuous ways like if she’s a few minutes late for a Skype rendezvous, all hell lets loose, he’s hours late, missing in action as it were for the day, and he goes,
    “Hey Babe!” when he finally connects as if nothing’s wrong…
    This kind of double standard is not going over really well with my daughter and no amount of “imagining thinking that way,” will make it all right…Now!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.