How Can You Break Free From The Cage of ‘Expecting & Fulfilling Other’s Expectations of You’

Let’s create a life you love — free from the expectations of the world

Renuka Gavrani
7 min readMar 14, 2024
Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

I was invited to a podcast recently and one of the questions I was asked was ‘What do you think about how expectations cage us and how can we truly break free of them?’

At the time, I couldn’t answer it very well but later that night, I found my inner voice speaking to me about it and I created such a beautiful concept that made me fall in love with my mind.

Damn it! Why don’t we come up with the best answers when it’s needed? It’s always after we think, ‘I could have said that, or I should have said this.’

Anyway, since then I have been dying to share my answer with you on how to break free from the cage of expectations and live your life freely. Shall we?

The Two-Way Road:

There are two ways expectations cage us.

  1. We have expectations from other people — we expect other people to behave in a certain way or do something for us or maybe you have expectations from your destiny and life — you are waiting for your life to change.
  2. We are trying to fulfill other’s expectations of us — becoming a person our parents approve of, doing a job that everyone would praise us for, going to a party because we cannot say NO, or the like.

You may be a victim of one or both of these. Firstly, ask yourself which of these categories you fall into or if you are caged in both of them. That is something I cannot do for you.

The KEY to Break-Free:

1. The Unlived Life; Expect from Other People:

What are you doing with your life? How do you live your life? How do you treat yourself? Do you know what your heart wants from you? Are you connected with the depth of your soul?

No? Or have you never really thought about it?

Well!

I am sitting here on my terrace, the sunlight is warm on my skin, one of my favorite music is playing in the background and I am doing something I truly love — writing on

. And oh, I just had a good cup of tea. Life is good.

However, I must tell you that I haven’t slept well for the past 20 days, I haven’t had my privacy, and my dream project is on hold because my grandmother is hospitalized.

Did you see it? How is my life good and bad in turn?

The thing is life tried to put a hold on me but hey, it’s me. I will decide how I live. I will make time for myself no matter what. I will create a space where I can pause the external world. Because if I don’t then I will expect other people to come and console me. I would want my parents to understand how tired I am and others to see how I am taking care of my grandmother.

If you don’t understand what I mean, I want to tell you that,

“You start to expect from the world when you are not taking care of yourself. You start to expect life to change when you are doing anything to enjoy life.”

In my opinion, you can only expect anything from the world when your life is unlived and you are ignored by yourself.

If you cook for yourself after coming back from the office and enjoy the process with good music and a glass of wine, I am sure life would feel just as good but instead, you want your partner to cook for you or perhaps, you are waiting to meet a perfect person who would do all these things for you.

If you take mundane moments of your life and use them to do the things that your heart enjoys, you will fall in love with your life and might stop waiting for that ONE FINAL DAY when your life will change and you will be happy.

Expectations are the result of how ignored your soul feels by you. The simple fact is you need love and care, if you don’t get it from yourself, your mind will expect it from others. You need someone to understand you only because you don’t understand yourself. You want someone to say ‘You are such a great human’ either because you never said it to yourself or you do good things so other people can see you. Your life needs joy so you seek it by waiting for life to change.

Oh, what a sad reality of our world!

I told you my example to show you that ‘you can always make time to make your heart smile. You can always make time to rest and come home to yourself. You can always do something to feel good and hopeful.’

The choice lies in your hands. But you give that power away by using your hands to beg people to make you happy.

I wholeheartedly believe that you can only expect anything, validation, joy, love, understanding, support, or care, from the people around you when you don’t give it to yourself.

So, what you need is —

SELF-Expectations.

Have expectations from yourself. Invest your hopes in yourself. Demand things from yourself.

Ask yourself ‘What can I do for myself to feel good? How can I make my ‘today’ better? How can I make my heart smile and my eyes shine? Is there a buried desire that I want to work on?’

When you demand things from yourself, you don’t get the time to beg from the world, you rather realize how much you can do for yourself and how great it feels to take care of yourself.

Self-expectations = End of worldly expectations.

Go ahead and learn to demand the same things from yourself that you have been expecting from others. And if it becomes tough to fulfill your desires, you will get a reality check — if it can be so challenging to do it for yourself then how people would have felt doing things for you. That will make you grateful as well for the little things that others do for you — making your relationships stronger.

2. Expectations of the World:

Why do we feel the need to fulfill others’ expectations of us?

There was a time in my life when I wanted everyone to think I was intelligent and beautiful. Reason?

Because I was trolled heavily by my relatives — they made me believe that I was stupid and ugly with weird hair.

None of that holds any power on me today because I have worked on myself. I have become so satisfied and complete with who I am that I don’t care what you or anything thinks of me. Do you know why?

Because I have seen the ugliest and most beautiful parts of life. I have seen how people trolled me for my looks and how I got endless proposals in college because well, puberty hit. I have seen how they treated me when I couldn’t score good grades to how they treat me today when I am a best-selling author.

I have observed that people change their behavior towards you when you have what they have set as the benchmark of ‘success.’ They accept you then. However, the people who don’t fulfill that criteria are often overlooked, like I was, hence such people try hard to get the validation and attention of people — by fulfilling the expectations that you think people have of you.

For example: There is one of my cousins who kept saying to me that I wasted my degree and my father’s money because he thought I wasn’t making money after college. He taunted me at every event and shamed me before everyone.

But do you know I could have shut his mouth by telling him how much I make? I didn’t do it though. Why?

Because I no longer need their validation. I don’t care if you think I am jobless or a piece of waste. I have become so detached from other people’s judgments that not even for a second I think of what others need from me.

I feel so satisfied with who I have become, how I live my life, what I do, and in general what I think of myself that in my mind, I have no space for someone else’s opinion.

Besides, when you are busy fulfilling the desires of your heart, you don’t get time to fulfill other’s expectations of you. You become quiet, simple, and humble — knowing that you are doing the best you can to make your life your best piece of art.

Well, I forgot that I have to conclude it for you. Oops!

I guess all I want to tell you is ‘When you travel back in time and find the reason why you seek validation from others, why you go that extra mile for others, why you make yourself uncomfortable to make others laugh, that will be the time when you will be able to break free from the cage of becoming other’s gatekeeper.’

When you get your own validation towards how you look, what you wear, and who you have become then you won’t have to become someone you are not just to fulfill other’s idea of ‘you.’ That’s when you will be free to live life as who you truly are.

Conclusion:

How do I tell you that it feels magical to live your life as who you are, and take time to understand your thoughts and emotions? It’s almost as if every day has something exciting stored for you.

I hope you create that magic for yourself too.

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Renuka Gavrani

I talk about slow & Intentional living - taking you closer to a happy life. I am a published author of the book 'The Art of Being Alone': https://a.co/d/531JIFq