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They shouldn't have not behaved like this with me!

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

My mum should listen to me! I have tried to change her for years with no success! I am so tired of it

My friend should have shown up at my birthday party. I am not going to talk to her anymore

My partner is always late for dinner, he shouldn't be late. This makes me so frustrated. I then close up and don't speak to him for the entire dinner

These examples show how forming expectations of other people's behaviour can influence your emotional response.

The common cognitive assumption underlying these cases is:

You expect people to behave the way you want

You expect:

Your mum to listen

Your friend to be available for you

Your husband to be punctual for dinner

Classical Cognitive Behavioural analysis (CBT) assumes that the source of suffering is the irrationality of your assumptions, not the fact itself.

You get frustrated because you expect your mother to listen to you, not because she is not listening.

The fact itself is neutral, is the irrationality of thought on top that is generating suffering

In these cases, a more logical thought would be

I expect people to behave the way they want


I do not expect people to behave the way I want

What happens if you try to change this attitude?

Keeping on with our example...

My mum has not been listening to me for years, so I expect her not to listen to me when I talk. I expect her to behave the way she wishes. It is her right to behave as she wants, as much as it is my right to behave the way I want.

Try to do this mental switch as an experiment:

I expect people to behave the way they want

I do not have any right to change them

They do not have any right to change me

Then reflect on the following questions:

What would you do differently?

Would you do something new?

Do you notice any change in your emotional response?

Do you notice any change in your body response?

Would you like other people to tell you how you should live your life?

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