Here’s a secret that took me way too long to learn: It’s okay to prioritize your needs over someone else’s expectations.
You read that right.
Your needs. Someone else’s expectations. Can you even imagine?
At first blush, it feels so deeply selfish and inherently weak. So uncomfortable, so distasteful, so impolite —something I truly thought I could never do. Even the mere thought of disappointing some else before disappointing myself made the toes of my inner people-pleaser curl.
So I simply didn’t.
Instead, I complied. I went along. I surrendered.
My self-abandonment knew no bounds. I conceded, conformed, and complied, rapid-fire, until I disliked the other person for asking and taking almost as much as I disliked myself for replying and giving. Almost. It was then I finally realized this fundamental truth: There is absolutely no honor in refusing to disappoint people while wholeheartedly resenting them.
Lately, I’m leaning into the understanding that expectations aren’t inherently bad. But they are tricky. I know now that unrealistic, unreasonable, unhealthy, unrelenting, or even just unwelcomed expectations from someone else may come disguised as a benign request or mutual agreement — but they can quickly start to feel like control, entitlement, punishment, shame, and passive aggression.
For far too long, I ignored “the voice” of my own needs. I shushed that internal whisper that told me when something wasn’t a good fit for me, reminded me when I was overcommitting time and energy I did not have, and begged me to recalibrate the dynamics in some of my relationships.
I didn’t listen to “the voice” then — but I am fully listening now. And you can too.
TODAY’S SOFT NEVER
Let’s put a Soft Never on believing we can never put our needs, our peace, our growth, our healing or our joy above someone else’s expectations. Unchecked expectations can keep us jumping through hoops, bending over backwards, and accommodating all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. We shouldn’t have to dilute who we are or make ourselves as small as possible to sidestep someone else’s disapproval or disappointment.