Have you ever placed yourself in someone else’s shoes? It is quite easy to expect others to do it for us, but rarely the other way round. This scenario has recurred in my life and i’ll offer a glimpse of it.
Back in high school, I experienced something most of us fear – loss. The loss was of somebody very close and all hell broke loose. I was off session and so not many of my school mates knew about it. Quite few actually, for one reason or the other. My life had come to a complete halt and I felt that it was only fair for my friends’ lives to follow suit. That they should drop everything else and enter my bubble of grief and sorrow. I felt something towards them… something of a demanding nature. ‘Entitlement’-that’s it. My mind convinced me that I was entitled to their time, among other things. That I deserved nothing short of a 24 hour presence, continuous displays of affection and whatever I needed when I needed it. I wanted to be babied and I cast the burden on them. Only, they had no idea what sort of standard I’d set. I’d set the bar so high they could hardly keep up. It goes without saying that with this kind of expectation came hurt. For a long while I was stuck in a place of anger and hurt. Why? They obviously didn’t meet my thresh-hold. (I mean seriously, who would?) All my negative emotion was channeled directly at them and I was completely blind to whatever effort they put in.
Recently, I experienced loss again. Not my own, but of others. Two very close people suffered this misfortune and I instantly felt obliged to step in. So I did. I immersed myself in their pain and allowed myself to hurt. A darkness crept in that took me back to pain I’d covered up for a long while. I however dealt with that behind closed doors where I could be myself. I did what I thought I wanted done for me during my time of suffering. However at some point, I failed miserably. I couldn’t bear all their pain,hurt and torment for much longer. I couldn’t stand it anymore. All I wanted was for their pain to end, I wanted everything to be okay. So I just stopped. I literally stopped standing in the gap for them and instead grew distant. I protected myself in the guise of ‘they are strong’. ‘They are getting better’. ‘It is hard but we are trusting the Lord’. The truth was, I couldn’t face it anymore. This happened not once, but twice. I was given not one, but two chances to be the person I’d expected would be there for me back then. It was a hard task and more often than not I felt like I could just break. I kept thinking of their pain and wishing I could bear all of it. Wishing I could take away all the hurt. But you see, that’s just about it. I wished, thought, had good intentions, even felt their pain so deeply …but did nothing. I failed to reach out as much as I probably should have. It then dawned on me. Almost immediately, I made a connection to my past and realized it was yet another life lesson.
I currently hold a belief I didn’t hold back then. That I should not expect others to do the things I can’t do myself. How then, do I know I can or cannot do something? (Follow me here) …I don’t. Not until a situation calls for it and I’m put in a place that warrants action. Only then shall I know what I can/can’t handle. Better yet, it is then when I discover my reaction to things. However, it is not everyday we are faced with events that show us who we really are. This being the case, we can’t be absolutely certain of our reactions. It follows therefore that we can’t place blind expectations of others no matter the situation.
It’s pretty simple as I came to learn. Life is full of uncertainities. Even those who’ve achieved self- awareness continue to grow and discover new things about themselves. My point? Setting standards for people is not something we should engage in. If we do, disappointment will become the norm and we’ll see ourselves as above others while the reality is quite the opposite. Nobody will ever be enough. Of course there is a regard in which we hold others based on their behavioral trend… But that’s about it. It’s the esteem in which we hold them. But this does not give us a right to place unnecessary expectations on them.
In my case, the issue is handling loss. Plus probably things I haven’t discovered yet.Your issue may be something else. All the same, the point is clear and I think I learnt a big fat lesson I probably wouldn’t have learnt but for the experience. My logical conclusion? Expect nothing of others. Perhaps only that which you’re sure you can do yourself. But then again, how effective would that be? We are all different and what you do I probably can’t.
I’d stick with my ‘logical conclusion’ on this one. With no expectation comes wonderful surprise in light of desired actions.
Till next time!