Is it really reasonable to believe that you can make other people happy by always doing what’s expected, acquiescing to the wishes of others to live in their blessing? In reality you can never make someone else happy, they may be happy that you gave them what they were wishing for, but it does not necessarily make them happy. Much of the problem with viewing life from this perspective is fueled by a low sense of self and how worth, value, and happiness comes in life. The question that is at the core of the issue is: how does a person get to the point of not feeling that if one does not live up to the “expectation” of others, that acceptance, love, and approval will not be experienced?
Is There a Pattern of Response Connected to the Past?
While there are biological factors of personality and behavior, much of what’s beneath response is grounded in performance based thinking-behavior patterns established at a very early age. The result is an experience characterized by falsely associating rewards for behaviors with value as a person. A common response is a skewed sense of identity dependent upon reward attached to performance. Often, when performance based behavior is thought of by some, it is linked with a negative connotation. Performance and reward are not necessarily bad components when join together. Human behavior is understood in terms of motivation and goal. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, the principles of felt need and motivation for behaviors are illustrated in the basic way that individual’s act out behavior. The response is connected to how needs-drives are internalized, organized, and acted out. At the basic level, a common thread of response is present that supports the function of a healthy, well expressed life, but the response takes on a different pattern based upon signals from the environmental conditions, and perceived outcomes. Another point of consideration is that, humans are not simply deterministic in responses, but free to demonstrate dynamic interaction in response to what is occurring and has happened over the course of life. Knowing why behavior occurs may be more important to living effectively than identifying or classifying behaviors as good or bad. The truth is that everything that we are doing and how we respond is a continuing flow of experiences, information received, and responses that we organize in the unique way that integrates the information of life in our experience.
Is it Wrong to Respond as You do to Life?
Some individuals describe life in terms of black and white—good and bad. That is characteristic of a personality disorder that is described as “Borderline Personality” and indicates a behavior that presents with emotional dis-regulation response to stress. The personality illustration points to a reality experienced when we possess a limited view of life that describes everything in terms of good and bad, black and white. When the experiences in life do not fit linear terms of good and bad—stupid and smart, there is a difficulty in managing information that does not fit in the box, which colors outside the lines, and is not really understood. Looking at what people do and why in terms of what is effective and works and what do not work and is ineffective will provide a way of connecting behaviors with solutions that work. In response to the many questions that are within this, there is a place for good and bad, mores, values, and spiritual implications. However, simply describing the moral quality or value principle of what is done, will not help anyone: it more likely than not– will reinforce the same negative, self-destructive patterns of thinking and behaving. Therefore, understanding why behavior, resulting in performance that is motivated by a need for approval, characterizes how individuals respond to expectations and will provide more substantive answers that describing in terms of good and bad—right and wrong.
Healthy or Unhealthy Expectations?
A good question to ask about what is healthy and unhealthy is to look at the impact of actions in terms of what effect is elicited that promotes a specific behavior. An illustration about perspective and the effects of a point of view, internalized is within how Christians generally respond to behavior problems with guilt or conviction. I have a personal axiom that says, “guilt” drives us away from God—to hide as they did in the Garden of Eden and ”conviction” drives us toward God—as Isaiah’s vision of God (Isaiah 6). There is a distinct difference in how response is given to guilt and how response is given to an understood cognitive, spiritual truth. One produces neurotic behavior with its own distinct pathology and another with the response that frees choices and produces intentional responses. Consideration about what is healthy behavior may be best, framed in terms of motivation and what effect is produced. For example, a well-founded effort leads someone to let another know that they are a drunk and that they need to change. A good question to pose is: who feels better after the exchange, the one who identified the behavior or the “drunk “who heard those words describing behavior flavored with a character assessment? Understanding behaviors that identifies the action and misses the person has the missing component– hope of efficacy.
The epilogue is this: if the guilt of not pleasing others is placing expectation on you remember, “Healthy people with good self-worth and identity have a solid foundation from which to operate. They enjoy love and approval and success, but do not crumble without it. Their good feelings come from the inside, not from the external people and things which surround them” (Smith A.W.).