Expecting Little From Another
If over time you learn, or are actively taught, not to expect anything from a sibling, an adult child, or from a person who claimed to be a friend, is there anything left in that relationship?
When people behave in disappointing ways that let us down, or display their lack of regard for us, our natural human response at first is to be confused and bewildered.
When this form of selfish, thoughtless behaviour (from our perspective) continues we tend then to get irritated, make the small sounds and noises that display our disapproval of the response. If the behaviour continues, we finally get angry and are ready to display our wrath. Sometimes we display this wrath overtly and at other times covertly.
The unwanted response from the other person produces the experience for us of a lack of predictability and a loss of control.
Our lives, our family, and our relationships all stem from our inherent desire for security. This desire for security is found in the comfort of producing desirable, controllable, and predictable experiences. We tend to dismiss people from our lives or keep them in the distant periphery of our existence, when they are unable to add value to this inherent need for comfort, predictability and control.
People who make us feel insecure, irrelevant, or less important are generally people we are unable to appreciate and enjoy.
We may not seek these types of people to make friends with but almost all of us have someone, if not more than one such person, in our family. Sometimes we have old friendships too whom we no longer are that comfortable being with.
What do we do when someone we love and cherish, someone who is not on a list that we can cross out of our lives, acts oddly, or behaves in a manner we don’t like?
How may we respond when we are being taught to not expect anything from a person?
Anger, revenge, teaching him or her a lesson, putting them in their place, are perhaps the automatic, spontaneous, natural reactions that comes to most of us.
Yet none of these responses work for us in the long term because these types of reactions contribute further to our own regression and degradation as individuals. Such types of responses, tempting as they are, serve to hasten our corruption as human beings and push further towards our lesser selves.
We cannot judge another person and write them off as being terrible human beings not worth interacting with in any way. Such judgements are made only by individuals who have regressed close to points of no return.
We must not judge others in this way, because it gives no scope for the most beautiful thing about our human life – realisation and repentance that brings about a 180 degree change. The human existence is replete with stories of redemption and how we all have the opportunity to find and choose to be our better self.
No individual is static and stationary. All of us are either evolving or regressing. And the one who is currently regressing can change tomorrow and begin evolving, whilst the one who seemed to be evolving can also change and begin regressing. We need to be alert and agile and watch our own self.
So, what is an answer? What is the way to be when we come across a person whom we’ve learnt to expect nothing from?
When you learn not to expect anything from a person, what is left is the ability to appreciate and enjoy their presence, and the relationship for what it is.
Then instead of focusing on what you want or need from the other person, you can focus on simply enjoying their company, listening to them, and getting to know them better. You may understand why, and what, causes them to respond in the way they do, or you may not. Yet, you will access the empathy that needs to be exercised in you and understand that you too can be victim of biases and prejudices.
Such a shift in mindset will help you cultivate a sense of gratitude for the things that the person does offer you, rather than dwelling on what they don't.
It can free you from disappointment and frustration when the other person fails to meet your expectations, which can help you maintain a more positive and fulfilling relationship with them.
The greatest benefit is that you would have accessed you own higher, better self, and become someone they can depend on.
When people learn to depend on you consistently over time, they themselves become more dependable. It needs an investment of time, effort, and love. Wanting immediate gratification is hara-kiri for our inner well-being, and for our relationships.
It’s easy to like someone from whom you get whatever you want. No love is needed to be exercised for this.
That which forms, trains, and causes you to access your higher, better and evolved self (the self that will produce the greatest peace and happiness for you) needs you to enjoy others not for what you can get out of them, but for (1) accepting, acknowledging and appreciating them for who they are as they are and more importantly (2) who you can be to them
Learning to appreciate and enjoy someone without expecting anything from them is an evolved skill. It needs to be learnt, practised and mastered. It does not come easy.
It is easy to be insincere and pretend to appreciate someone. Nothing good will come from that for you, the other or the relationship. But this is for another article, on another day.
Relationships are not meant to be broken and discarded. We are meant to grow as individuals and become the woman or man who overcome the difficulties other people seem to cause in our life.
Running away is easy. You learn to stand. You learn to be strong. You learn to be unshakeable.
Accept that you don’t know yourself fully as yet. Be willing to acknowledge that you are not yet fully formed, that you are still a work-in-progress, confused, bewildered, hurt, pained, no doubt, but someone who will not give up on the other.
Let love illuminate, heal, and strengthen you on the inside. Don’t search for love. You are it.