“I don’t have expectations. Expectations in your life just lead to giant disappointments.” – Michael Landon
“I give and give, even when I get nothing back – and that sets me up for disappointment.” – Angie Stone
The other day, I said something to the SO and then set about waiting. Eventually, I got a reply but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I started to get upset and then caught it. I had the following conversation with myself:
Why am I getting upset?
Because SO didn’t respond the way that I wanted.
But didn’t I say that in order for it be a gift?
But if I’m disappointed, then I was expecting something specific which I didn’t get. If I said this thing in part to be nice, and in part to be praised in return for saying such a nice thing, then … it’s not really a gift at all. Especially if I then set about to punish my SO for ‘failing’ to provide the correct response.
Giving in order to get. As soon as I realized the true source of my upset, that got me to thinking about expectations in general. I’ve learned that every single time I feel in any way disappointed, it’s because some expectation was not met. Now there are plenty of times where those expectations are explicitly stated and known.
All too often, they aren’t. Learning that this sense of disappointment can be my guidepost to finding these expectations has been useful.
Giving in order to get. This was a bit of a doozy to realize I was doing. I may be on the Path of the Individual, but that in no way de facto means that I’m a selfish prick. Well, I am, but that’s not because of this path. That’s a separate thing entirely. Back to giving to get.
Everyone talks about ‘unconditional giving’ and how great that is. And by everyone, who do I mean? Well, in my personal experience it seems more like it’s an ideal to be strived toward than something which people actually regularly do. The people in my experience that I’m referring to are my parents, my friends and family, even some of the spiritual groups.
Until this conversation with myself, I had always considered myself to be somewhat of an unconditional giver. But after realizing the above, nope. Not at all. There are times when I do though usually it’s in a situation which has no personal impact. But with people who share my life, I am usually motivated by base desires. I want them to recognize and acknowledge that I have given something. I want the praise or appreciation. Hell, I want the attention in return, if even for a few moments.
I was sharing this with the SO and we got to talking about expectations and eventually self-recognition. I admitted out loud that I was afraid I’d recognize what a horrible person that I am. This lead into a discussion on two path — Individual, and Ideal.
The Path of the Ideal is the path most folks are on. This is the path in which some ideal form of being is embraced and continual being reached for. Since it’s an ideal, it can never really be achieved, but that’s not the point. The point is that people keep trying. Christianity, in face most religions, fall into this category. Right Behavior and Right Belief are defined, accepted by the adherents, and then these become the foundations which guide actions and choices. These are usually the socially acceptable modes of being, with expectations of what is and is not permissible. Because of this, there is a whole group willing to invite fellow adherents into the fold, where they are offered support as well censure where necessary. There is no real need here to delve too deeply into selfhood, unless something happens which the Ideal cannot address. Essentially, when life gets too gritty and dirty and the Ideal offers no satisfying coping mechanisms.
The Path of the Individual is different. There is no proscribed ideal to be looked up to and emulated. There is no ‘right’ path laid out before seeking feet. It’s a journey into the darkest aspects of self. On this path, yes, I will definitely discover that I’m a horrible person, and I’ll have to own all of that about myself. There is no Ideal ready to step in and take the burden of this awfulness away from me. Nope, it’s all mine, and that means it’s all mine to carry, own and manage. Now, I could get lost in the “horrible person” woe is me side of the spectrum. Many do. But my goal is to work through this stage, and come out the other side. Where I know my strengths and weaknesses in intimate detail. I know myself so well and OWN IT so thoroughly that I have no problem being honest about myself.
Right now, that’s not the case. I’ve been trying to blend the Individual and Ideal paths, and do them both at the same time. So I’ve been trying to unmake myself while also striving to adherent to external ideals, chocked full of expectations and even more disappointments. Yeah. That’s not working so well.
Pick a path, and walk it.