The pressure was evident, she’d seen the message but not replied.
Is she angry?
What if she is still hurt?
Who is keeping her so busy?
Why did she ignore my line?
Am I no longer on her priority list?
What if she’s chosen to let go of me?
These and a hundred other questions plagued my heart. My mind was restless. It took me a long time to accept that she may have wanted to reply but got busy and then forgot. Whatever it was, the pressure of accepting the delay, while waiting every nano second, was not easy.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Recently, I changed my WhatsApp ‘seen message’ setting. Now even if I read what’s sent, the two ticks remain grey; they do not change to a bright blue on the screen of the person sending the message.
Likewise, once someone receives a message sent by me, I don’t get to see whether it is read or lying unread in the recipient’s WhatsApp chat. Believe me, this was the best thing I did as a part of my self-care and healing journey. “Reduce expectations from others; likewise, don’t be a slave to what they expect.” This outlook was quite a game changer.
Once I understood the meaning of these words in their most positive sense, I realised the harm I was doing to myself by responding the moment a message pinged. The same was true with different life settings and people. As a reaction to my actions, I also expected prompt replies and responses. And when I did not receive them on priority, there would be a flurry of thoughts that would envelope me, adding to the other things I was dealing with.
Whose loss was it? Obviously, mine.
It is better to ‘let go’ and limit expectations
Just like this changed setting, I have now decided to take a step back when it comes to meeting expectations. The choice to perform in a minute, a day, a year or never, should remain with me. This realisation was a big one and it took a lot of time to sink in.
With age and experience, I have understood how disappointments are directly related to expectations. I have also figured how a large percentage of people follow the ‘zero expectations policy’. So, why did I take so much time to reach this juncture? Well, I was probably built this way. Maybe my base was structured to meet the unvoiced expectations of others. Taking a proactive stance was my second nature.
“Why should someone have to ask of me? Rather, I should be wise enough to understand his or her needs.” This rule has been my guideline and self-assessment measure so far. But is it still valid today when people are more ‘practical and nucleated in body and mind’?
Change in mindsets
We begin to feel a tad disappointed and let down. We try to draw attention but to no avail. And then, instead of being hammered down by our expectations of others, we start remoulding ourselves.
For example, this may happen when regular and timely reminders continue to fall on deaf ears. Soon, we stop reacting to the futility and hollowness of apologies. When we are wise enough to note how actions fail to match the words of those who say sorry (just to avoid conflict or embarrassment), we start looking for a change in ourselves.
We start accepting others’ follies as part of their inherent character. If they keep doing the same things the wrong way, despite being told, they are probably doing it intentionally. Likewise, they may be doing the same thing, constantly and intentionally, with many others.
Again, who is the loser? These people themselves. How long can they make you squirm by not meeting your expectations of them?
Going back to my analogy of two blue ticks, someday, you will find that person a waste of your time. Then, you will not hesitate to change your message settings. Moving on, they will not get to know if you have read what they wanted to convey.
In simple words, one fine day, you will also stop being proactive and responsive to their needs. This happens organically, slowly and consistently. It’s bound to happen.
Remember, you cannot be there for people who treat your expectations as an option
This said, it’s not wrong to change what you allow others to see. Just try tweaking your settings a bit, maybe not for everyone but only those who fall in the above bracket. Then sit back and notice the difference.
You will enjoy a strong sense of liberty. You will be aware of your responses and the urgency to respond, but the pressure will be less and diluted. And in all probability, if you are okay taking on responsibilities without being told, you will not retract from what’s expected of you.
And those who will get a taste of their own medicine, as a result of your change, will not be left with any reason to complain.
So, it’s ‘goodbye’ to these two cute blue ticks for me, at least for a while.
What about you?