How Internal Contracts Keep Us Back
Internal contracts create expectations and when they’re violated they hamper our abilities in so many ways. At the same time, learning to set them aside can provide tremendous growth.
The unspoken rules that go on inside of our heads can be good things or bad things depending on the situation and what those rules are. In short, the unspoken rules are expectations that we have, otherwise known as internal contracts.
If we do something we expect this person to do something or to get particular results. Or maybe we expect when people accept something they’re expected to behave a certain way or to perform specific actions.
These are the “terms” of our internal contract and should they ever be violated, our expectations and view of that person become negative.
It’s why people write hate posts about Medium or complain about the platform. It’s also why I got involved in a miscommunication problem with one of my clients recently.
Internal contracts are something that we can’t really turn off, but there are clearly ways that we can work around these. To understand, we need to look at internal contracts and how they affect us on a mental level.
Internal Contracts Are Normal
First off, internal contracts are normal. Like I just said we can’t really turn them off as they are often connected to us feeling disappointed, betrayed, angry, or hurt. Often times those emotions spark into something else.
But internal contracts all start with an expectation. An expectation that something acts the way we want it to or if we do something we expect a certain something to happen.
All in all those expectations point to something that we lack in our lives. If we have it, we grow and progress. If we don’t get it we get hurt and lash out.
And it is in those moments where we have several options to go about it. Often times we immediately turn to complain or venting to someone. Some will go even farther and just spread hate and negativity about someone or something on social media or somewhere else.
And it’s through those things where internal contracts keep us back from actual growth.
Complaining Doesn’t Help Anyone, And Expectations Create Rifts
The reality is that not every single person or organization you engage with is going to satisfy your expectations. Some people will disappoint you for a variety of reasons. Your internal contracts will be violated and you’re going to have to deal with it.
Complaining can lead to some form of action but more often than not, a lot of people complain but never bother to do anything about it. They wallow in this state for extended periods of time.
I know for myself I lost a friend who truly made me happy all because I turned down an offer to live with him and decided to go to a different college. He was so flustered that he said some pretty mean things to me at the time and vowed to never speak to me ever again.
I still haven’t talked to him as last I heard he moved out of the province I’m in, but I know for myself a lot of my actions I did in response to “prove him wrong”. It was a sort of personal vendetta to get back at him without really showing him and never seeing him again.
The actions I made back then were silly, but there was still a clear rift that formed because of our expectations. But sometimes those rifts start small and only expand the more people indulge in it.
Take Medium for example. I don’t see this a lot on my end, but there is negativity and hate on this platform as I know other writers and readers have been exposed to some of it and have talked about it. But a lot of that negativity and hate comes to the changes that Medium is making, some of the issues Medium runs into, to even what people get out of Medium through its offers.
In other words, peoples contracts about what Medium is to them is being violated by every decision and action Medium takes.
And it’s that kind of negativity that doesn’t help them or anyone else. It’s like what Prince Ea once said:
“Complaining is like throwing fire at an already burning building. You can’t put a fire out with more fire.”
We can’t solve a problem if every person is throwing more fire onto a problem. It only makes the problem worse in their eyes.
Removing Your Expectations
The only real way that we can truly grow is to recognize our internal contracts and to have an open mind. Psychology Today has information behind how expectations are formed and it comes to recognizing two psychological facts:
- Expecting something to happen will not make it happen. While so many of us know this, it’s surprising how much of us haven’t outgrown that. From a young age, we associate these expectations with our reality. For example, as a child, if we hated our sibling or another kid, we would believe our thoughts alone would cause that child to injure themselves some way. While that’s silly now, we still believe in that firmly today as adults. Think about how many people believe in The Secret or The Law Of Attraction where it’s said that our own thoughts dictate what’ll happen to us. I believe in the law of attraction personally, but I recognize that thoughts alone don’t get results. Actions do. But positive thoughts certainly help.
- We generally have a tendency to place hope of our happiness on expectations that are already fulfilled. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as we have valid reasons to believe that fulfilling those expectations will make us happy and we take the steps necessary to reach it. These valid reasons can be that we experienced something like this in the past that made us happy.
It’s these psychological facts that comprise our internal contracts. And where we run into issues, is when we are expecting something to happen but have no valid reasons to get there. Going back to the Law of Attraction, we can imagine ourselves driving a new car and it’ll make us feel good, but we won’t get that car if we’re doing nothing but thinking about it. We’d be magically thinking.
Going to people specifically often sparks resentment when our expectations aren’t being fulfilled. For example, we could get a car without paying a dime for it if we asked someone else. But by doing that we’re moving our expectation of getting a car over to someone else. On top of that, we’re expecting that person to behave a certain way and if they don’t do that we’re often shocked. Those emotions move to feelings of anger or resentment towards that person.
In the end, removing expectations is recognizing those things, but then realizing that life is not always going to go your way. And for me, that’s what’s so exciting about life.
I’m glad that things aren’t always going my way.
Sure it sucks to deal with issues and to run into problems but if life was easy and everyone could get everything they ever wanted, I can imagine the world would be a lot greedier. Not to mention I don’t think people would be truly happy.
Setting aside our expectations doesn’t mean that we’re accepting other peoples behaviours. We can still point out flaws as I know for myself Medium is not perfect. Not to mention not every client I take on is going to be incredibly understanding or 100% transparent.
But it’s that act of setting our own opinions and expectations aside where we see real growth. It’s why I’m mostly positive about Medium because I recognize that this platform is helping me grow as a writer. Not to mention its paying me to do that. It’d be hard to see or even acknowledge that if I was always complaining about my below average monthly earnings or that a post I worked on didn’t get curated or Medium ran into a technical issue.
Removing our expectations and internal contracts will remove unnecessary stress and allow us to really look at the changes things and people make and allow us to better respond to those situations.
It’s how we grow as people.
We respond to problems. Not complain about them.