Ideal Blueprints: Our Expectations of How People and Relationships Should Be
Ever want a different husband, kid, boss, friend, or mother…? I know I often did.
The biggest sore spots in my relationships often where when I thought things should be other than what they were or a person should be different.
The Ideal Mother, the Ideal Husband, the Ideal kid…
We don’t get to decide how others behave, we only get to control ourselves and some of us have a tough time doing even that.
Things are the way they are and people are who they are. We try to change things and people but the only thing we really have power over is our thoughts and what we create in our lives.
We get really stuck on the Ideal Version of people and the Ideal way they should fulfill the Roles they play in our lives.
I love these definitions of Ideal from the Oxford dictionary: 1. Satisfying one's conception of what is perfect; most suitable. 2. Existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality.
Think about it, you likely have an Ideal Mother Blueprint in your head and every time your mother doesn’t measure up to it you think, yup here’s another example, more proof of how she falls short and lets me down.
She’s only falling short because you have an Ideal Blueprint in your head of a perfect mother that you are comparing her to.
The crazy thing is, we all have these Ideal Blueprints in our heads for every person and relationship in our lives. The even crazier thing is that every one of us has a different version for everyone else, my ideal mother is likely very different from your ideal mother. And then to top all this off no-one knows what the Ideal Blueprint is they are expected to live up to in any given relationship.
So until we recognize we do this, we are setting ourselves up for suffering.
Here are some examples of our Ideal Blueprints for people and what results we create in our lives when they don’t match up to reality:
We might think our husbands should tell us we look nice when we have done something different or special with our appearance. When this doesn’t happen this way we make this mean that our husbands don’t find us attractive or don’t pay attention to us. Thinking this we feel unhappy or angry. Maybe then we lash out in anger or mope around and pout.
We might think mother’s should not drink too much. When our mother does drink too much or is a mother who drinks, we make this mean we have a bad mother or that we were unlucky in life to get the mother we got. Thinking this we might feel unworthy, unlucky, and probably angry. When we feel unworthy for unlucky we might not show up in other areas of our lives in a confident way.
We might think our friends shouldn’t be flaky. When our friends are flaky and don’t show up for us, we might think, friends shouldn’t behave that way, they should show up. We might make this mean that we don’t have good friends. When we think we don’t have good friends we might feel lonely or like something is missing from our lives. When we feel this way we might fill ourselves up with food or drinks or tv instead.
Do you see what our expectations for others can create in our lives? These Ideal Blueprints for relationships and people are setting us up for suffering.
Now I’m not saying you have to just accept bad behavior in your relationships or have an anything goes attitude. This is where you set boundaries for what you’ll tolerate in your life.
The difference between setting boundaries and having an Ideal Blueprint for others is very significant. Boundaries are something you have control over, while a person following your Ideal Blueprint is totally out of your control.
A boundary for example might be you letting your mother know that you will leave if she has been drinking. You let her know this is what you will do and she has the choice to drink or not drink. You do what you say you will do in either case. You don’t change her behavior you change yours.
Try to drop the ideal Blueprints for people and create healthy boundaries instead. I know it’s easier said than done, we’ve been honing these Ideal Blueprints our entire lives but it is worth the effort. Just pay attention to why you are setting boundaries. They are meant to protect you not to manipulate the other person into behaving the way you want then to.
When we drop the Ideals for people and relationships we get to stop allowing people and relationships to control how we feel.
So if mom drinks, she drinks. It doesn’t mean anything about me, it’s about her. I can choose to love and accept her the way she is without trying to change her. This is so much better than the suffering I create for both of us when she doesn’t live up to the Ideal Blueprint I have for her.
I challenge you to look around at the relationships in your life and the Ideal Blueprints you have. Can you drop them? Can you practice looking at the these people as they are without expectations of who they should be?
I think you’ll find way more enjoyment from your relationships when you drop your Ideal Blueprints for them. You may find that a relationship that was unbearable becomes neutral or a relationship you wanted to leave becomes cherished.
You will gain clarity around your relationships when you remove all the expectation and Ideal Blueprints from them. You begin to see and appreciate the people for the humans they are, imperfections and all.
I think you will find relief from your self-made suffering, I know I did.