People will let you down. It has happened to all of us, yet it is no less painful if you are a child experiencing it for the first time or an adult experiencing it for the 500th time.
Many of us believe that whether it’s a friendship, a co-worker, a parent/child, a romantic relationship or even your barista, the nature of being in any relationship creates a certain give and take.
There are expectations.
And then a situation happens where your expectations are not met. You are left angry, sad, mad, frustrated, confused. You wonder where things went wrong. You play over and over in your head “how could they ____”. The more you think about it, the more you get angry, sad, mad, frustrated, confused. It builds. Your heart beats faster. You want to scream, yell, cry.
The hardest thing to do is to stop and to breathe. To take a moment to step out of the eye of the storm, away from the emotion swirling around you.
It sucks you back in, how could they do this to me when I did this, that and this for them? I was this and I did that and how could they not even give one iota of that back to me? In the midst of this inner dialogue you feel like a victim and it seems like there is no way out. The event has left you scarred. You will never be the same. How can I open myself up again? How can I be the nice one that gets taken advantage of?
It is at this point that we have a choice to make – do we choose to live in fear of getting hurt again? Or do we choose to live in a way that we give love and kindness freely?
We are human. We let each other down because there is no possible way that we can ever truly know what the other person is thinking, how they are experiencing this life or how they will react to something. You cannot control another person. This is such a hard lesson for us because we are so surprised every time someone lets us down, when in reality it happens so often that we shouldn’t be surprised at all. We should almost expect it because we can’t control them and we can’t control their reaction.
But we can control our own. We have a choice to decide why we do things. Are we doing them only because we want the pats on the back for doing them? For the acknowledgement of a job well done? Or do we do things because that is the kind of person that we are? We hold doors open for others because we want to help. We smile at the cashiers and ask them how their day is going because we just want to be courteous and show them that we appreciate them. We help others because that is who we are, not because we expect something in return.
In life coach training, they tell you that you have to be unattached to the outcome for your clients. It’s their journey. Their work. They are responsible for their own results. We are just there to ask the questions that maybe they never have answered out loud. It’s hard not to hope for the best when you can see that is so close within their reach.
Being unattached to the outcome does not mean that you do not care. It does not mean you become complacent in the relationship. It does not mean that you stop contributing. What it means is that you accept the fact that you cannot control the outcome. That no matter what happens, it is not a reflection of you, but a choice of the other person.
You can scream and shout about how unfair it all is and how they treated you poorly, but what will that really accomplish? That will close you off. That will make you live in fear of getting hurt again. It will mean that so many others will not benefit from your compassion, your wisdom and your smile because you have chosen to put it away and lock it up because someone didn’t treat it properly. But what sense does that make?
This is so hard, but so necessary……..the things that we do for others, must be because we WANT to do them, not for what we might get from them down the road. I believe that people are generous at their core. I believe that the only way that we can truly live is to live together helping and caring for one another. Unfortunately, too many people have been hurt and have decided to heal their hurt with fear and callousness to others.
Maybe one day I will be able to achieve a zen-like nature that I imagine someone like Deepak Chopra has where they are unaffected by the reaction of others. But until then I will find comfort in the fact that I’m not going to change the person I am. I will continue to live life from a place of genuine respect and kindness to you and if you cannot afford to pay me back in kind, well that is your loss, not mine.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.