It's normal. But, what's not normal is making assumptions about what someone expects of you. It's an unhealthy way to approach any interaction and can have a negative impact on how other people view you. Stop Interpreting Intentions - The urge to interpret what you see in someone else's actions is almost built into us as human beings. But, no matter how much a part of your world view it may feel, stop doing it. It will take time to make this change - after all, you've been doing it since your first social interactions in preschool. But, here's a trick that will help you out. When someone does something, instead of asking "why", tell yourself that there is no reason. Imagine that the action magically happened of its own accord, without anyone to blame or link to it, the same as the rain storm the other night or the sunshine last weekend. Sure, there were intentions, but by pretending nothing caused it, you'll be able to get some distance and give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask Nicely - If you really feel unsure about what someone is doing or asking of you, simply ask them what the point is. This is a pretty simple way to get past all of it. You can use your active listening tactics as well - if someone says something that sounds rude, offer your interpretation and then wait for clarification. These actions will all allow you to generate real impressions without creating any disagreements between each other. Expect the Best from Others - At the end of the day, no matter how many times you've been burned and how many people seem to be trying to take advantage of your nicer qualities, I implore you to expect the best out of them. Just imagine what happens when you're wrong about someone's so called bad intentions. More often than not, it could be a misunderstanding. Call to mind the behaviors you want to keep reinforcing. What events do you want to increase the likelihood of taking place in your daily life? Pay attention to the choice points that facilitate that goal.

If your target is to actually use that gym membership you keep paying for, then what behaviors are you engaging in that will set you up to make it there? Did you make sure you went to bed before midnight so you wouldn't be too tired the next morning? Did you pack a nutritious lunch and snack so you wouldn't be ravenous when you went after work? Did you remember to bring your gym clothes with you? Did you show up as planned? Notice that you did these things. It is easy to overlook your micromoments of progress! Hopefully routine monitoring has been helping you notice the choice-point moments that serve you well. Keep up the good work noticing. (And then keep noticing.) Can you write down some recent examples? Happy people have a specific way of complaining. Researchers looking into how happy people tend to complain surveyed 410 college students about their pet peeves with current or former relationship partners. The study found that those who complain in a more "deliberate" way--that is, with a purpose toward helping fix the thing that is causing irritation--tend to be happier. The researchers attributed this to the old buzz word, "mindfulness," suggesting that "perhaps people who are more mindful modulate the type of complaints they offer, preferring to engage in instrumental types of complaints over expressive complaints." When you're about to complain, stop for at least a moment and consider how you would prefer things to be and how they could be improved, rather than simply voicing the complaint. You are no doubt familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence--a person's ability to deal with their own emotions and respond to the emotions of others. It's sometimes discussed as an instinct we have intuitively. But psychologist Daniel Goleman has developed a mixed model of five competencies of emotional intelligence, which research indicates we can develop in ourselves. Self-awareness: Understanding your own emotions and what sets you off (by keeping a journal to track your emotions and responses throughout the day). Self-management: The ability to respond to these emotions and avoid overreaction or outbursts, keeping your feelings from creating trouble in your life and relationships (by breathing deeply and counting to ten when feeling stressed or angry). Empathy: Understanding and responding to the emotions of others (by shifting your focus to the interests and emotional needs of others).

Determine on which of the five steps of emotional intelligence you need the most work, and follow the accompanying tip suggested above. Complaining can chip away at our level of happiness. One study found that frequent complainers suffer worse moods and experience them for longer than those who abstain from complaining. Telling someone about a personal slight or a product with which we are disappointed rarely provides the response we seek--often because we are just venting to friends or loved ones rather than going to the source of our aggravation. But science says it does not have to be this way. According to psychotherapist Guy Winch, who wrote a book about the subject, complaining with an eye toward solving problems and creating change can make venting both more satisfying and more effective. This is best done using what Winch calls a "complaint sandwich." This begins with the "ear opener," an opening line aimed at easing the person you are speaking to into your complaint, to keep from putting them on the defensive ("Thanks for taking my call so quickly . Follow this process, and not only will the person to whom you are complaining be more likely to respond, you'll feel better in the process. Think about who you want to be your capitalization buddy. Try your best to pick the right partner based on the topic and the timing. Consider the content. Is this an okay topic to share with this person? Does it threaten them in any way? Will it be hurtful? Is this a context in which you would come off as insensitive or bragging? Is this a context in which they have their own blind spots, so they won't give you what you need? Consider the timing. Can this person usually give you what you need but is too tired, preoccupied, or stressed right now? Is this someone you can text, "Call me when you can, I have good news," and you can trust that, when they have the time to listen, they'll get back to you? Set yourself up to get the form of feedback that will be most encouraging to you.

Do you have the conversation via text? Email? Phone call? In person? Other forms of communication I'm not cool enough to keep up with? Any form of interaction is a venue to capitalize, though they each have advantages and limitations. Text messaging may bring you an immediate supportive response, but you may not be elaborating as much as you would when e-mailing or speaking With e-mailing, you might elaborate the most, but you miss out on a real-time conversation Phone calls or in-person dialogue might feel the most rewarding, but sometimes the person you want to tell isn't around until weeks or months after the event. I know the last few sections probably seem contradictory to each other. I tell you to take criticism, then avoid manipulation and then to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. In reality, it's very hard to make the judgment call between all of these different world views. Those who have their act together never "want" to do what it takes to get their act together - they do it because it NEEDS to be done. In their mind, there's no other choice. It's part of the blueprint. It's a necessary step in the plan. It's what they have to do to keep the "machine" working properly. We all "want" to be lazy, sleep in late, and to not have to work or make an effort. It's much easier that way. But this isn't about what you want - it's about what HAS to be done. The things you "want" don't create the results. Doing what HAS to be done creates nothing but results.

Switch from thinking about what you "want" to thinking about what "has to" be done. From now on, what "has to" be done is all that matters. Completely forget about what you "want". Get rid of it. When you get in the habit of consistently doing what has to be done, you automatically get everything you've ever wanted and more. When you get in the habit of doing what has to be done, everything you've ever wanted takes care of itself. When you consistently do what you "want" to do, you always have problems, roadblocks, and a lack of peace and stability in your life and mind. You're done with what you want. It's not a choice anymore. You're going to have situations where it's very hard to tell whether someone is taking advantage of you or being rude or simply behaving in a different way than you're used to. That's why we wait and see. Those who don't have their act together may enjoy the short-term pleasures of doing what they want but they, unfortunately, have to lie in the bed they make and live with the long-term consequences of their poor decision making. Thinking about what you "want" is weak-mindedness. Focusing on what "has to" happen and what you need to do makes your mind stronger, sharper, and more focused. Instead of jumping on someone for their outrageous behaviour (and acting a little outrageous ourselves), we wait and determine if anything really merits that kind of anger. More often than not, it doesn't. One of the most important aspects of any relationship is empathy. You cannot just interact with someone and listen to their problems - you must go the extra mile and actually feel for them. It's a tough road that requires a substantial emotional investment, but it works wonders when building a relationship in which you hope to have a healthy back and forth. I've already discussed empathy and why it's such a vital aspect in a likable person, but what about in action - as part of a real world relationship.