The first approximation of others is ourselves. In other words, the expectations we have for others in any given situation or environment, in lieu of those being expressly stated or agreed upon, are largely guided by those we set for ourselves. An example being that, if we are always punctual to appointments then we expect others to do the same and get quite perturbed when they are not. The less punctuality is important to you personally, in general the less bothered you will be when others also fail to meet this goal. This is something I have come to term the First Expectation and it is something I encounter and dwell on quite a bit for i believe that it is, in fact, one of the building blocks of any creed or belief system.

I feel it helpful to remember that how we treat ourselves when we fall short is also important. The more forgiveness and empathy we have with ourselves when we fail to meet our own first expectations should inform the measure we use to treat others. In the Christian tradition, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” is an idea embodied by the first expectation — and the empathy, forgiveness, and compassion contained therein 1. The idea being, in part, that if one lives and does these things, if they set this at the core of their expectations for themselves, it will also set an expectation for others to do the same.

Such things are far too often out of sync. Either we are far too hard on ourselves and have more liberal expectations of others or the opposite is true. Let us, instead, sit in empathy on all sides, open paths to communication that makes our first expectations clear, and mindfully listen and understand those of others.

  1. In other more simple terms, in order to love another as one loves themselves then it is important to love oneself first so that we may set a bar in our love for others. If one does not hold themselves in kindness and respect, how does one hope to hold others accordingly?