Thursday, March 12, 2009

Managing Expectations

If I could manage this one lesson once and for all, my life would radically alter.

Truly, this may be the key to world peace. Maybe nothing so dramatic, but learning to accept what people bring to my life, versus yearning for what I want them to bring could certainly change my life. I do not claim to be a master here. I am definitely still a student on this one.

I have reached some understanding around this in the past. Admittedly, my learning can fade and I often find myself facing the same lesson again and again.

I get that people come into my life for reasons I may not understand. I get that people do not think or act like me no matter how much I would like that to be the case. I get that. It's the liking it that I have to come to terms with. I cannot seem to let go of placing expectations on others.

Here's what I know. Imagine someone in your life that disappoints you or frustrates you in some way. Now, imagine that person as a clothing store. They sell beautiful items for good prices and it could actually be a a pleasure to visit their clothing store. Now, picture yourself walking in the front door of their establishment, and without so much as a glance at what there is to offer, you ask if they sell milk. Over the course of several years, you visit the store and each time, you request milk. You may even demand milk. You certainly will not like that milk cannot be found.

After years and years of banging your head against this particular wall, perhaps you will learn to truly see what is around you when you visit this particular store. Maybe you will begin to appreciate what is before you. Granted, you may have to mourn the fact that milk is unavailable to you, but you may begin to be grateful that clothing is possible.

Ironically, once you start to appreciate what this person is offering you - once you start to see clearly what is beautiful and good about what exists, you actually allow the other person to expand and grow. Heck, you may even empower that person to begin to offer milk. The thing you have been yearning for in their presence may only appear once you stop expecting it. Go figure. Once you lift your expectations of others, everything becomes easier for everyone.

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