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How To Free Yourself from Other People’s Expectations

Why is it that we let other people determine how we feel about choices we’ve made in our own lives?

Why do we give all of our power away?

We’ve all done these things at some point or another, so wouldn’t it be great if we could stop?

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I started thinking about this topic a while back after a conversation with a friend. She was sharing with me about a friend of hers (we’ll call her Susan) who was constantly being bombarded with “advice” and comments from her mother-in-law about what she should be doing to be a better mother and a good wife.

My friend was concerned about how distressed Susan had become trying to manage her mother-in-law and all of her feedback.

Susan wasn’t living her life the way her mother-in-law thought she should be. It had become really unsettling for Susan and had shaken her to her core, to the point where she was questioning whether or not she was actually a good mother and wife.

After hearing about Susan, I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it would be if we could free ourselves from that negativity. If we could completely brush off those feelings of being “less than” that we take on just because of someone else’s opinion.

You Get to Assign the Meaning

I thought about times I’ve actually allowed this to happen in my own life. When we get these negative and critical messages, especially from our families, it can be very powerful. (And I don’t mean in a good way.)

Being told we should or shouldn’t be doing certain things that are inconsistent with how we live our lives can cause us to start questioning our own choices and judgment.

Right off the top, there’s one thing I want you to know.

YOU get to decide the meaning you give to whatever someone else is sharing with you.

YOU get to decide whether or not you accept it when someone else is questioning your choices.

One thing we need to remember is that people take their own life view, their own biases and decisions about how people should live or what they should do, and they project them onto other people. They project their own insecurities or belief systems onto other people so they feel justified in their own feelings and decisions.

I like to think of this as everyone having a movie.

The movie we all have is made up of our own opinions and life experiences. It’s the lens each of sees the world through. That movie can then be projected onto other people and things.

Take the Power Out of the Words

A good example from my own life was my mom. She used to always tell me I should only work part-time so I could have a career and be fulfilled but also have time to be there for my kids.

She had some very strong opinions and ideas when it came to the topic of working mothers.

Truth be told, I actually DID follow that advice and I couldn’t say whether I did it because I truly wanted to or because I was programmed to think that what she was saying was “right”. (Just goes to show how powerful of an impact other people’s words can have on us over the long term!)

When I think about it now, she was really just projecting her own movie onto me, because that advice she gave me what exactly what she did. Those were the choices she made. In her mind, that was how things should be done to be the best mother, best employee, and the best everything, really.

I’m not going to say my mom was “bad” for doing this. It’s not bad or good…it just IS.

Again, it’s about the other person wanting to justify their choices and what they want. It has very little to do with you at all!

Deep down inside ourselves, we know what the best decisions are for our own lives. Sometimes it takes us a little bit to dig down and find that place, but it’s always there.

Knowing where the “advice” is coming from (a place of them projecting their own movie) can go a long way to take out a bit of the sting. Getting caught up in the words and letting them cause you pain is just not worth your energy.

Remember. It’s not about you. It’s about them. Period.



See Diane's Fearless Conversations Blog for more tips, tools, and strategies for succeeding in difficult conversations and getting what you want need and deserve out of work and out of life.


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