When others make you suffer, you’re still the one who has the remedy
“Do what you said you’re going to do” was the refrain of my childhood.
My dad, in particular, insisted on educating me by the “man of his word” principle.
He used to say that when you stand by your promises, people value you. It’s a quality that will make you stand out.
And so, I grew up with a strong sense of following through with my promises. It felt natural.
What my dad forgot to tell me, however, was that most people don’t follow through.
D’oh, I guess I should have asked myself earlier why would others value me for doing what I promised. Obviously, because it’s such a rare thing.
Anyway, the point is that I became this person who wouldn’t let people down AND who wrongly expected the same from others.
I’ve been waiting for you for half an hour already, and you’re telling me you’re not coming? What if I hadn’t called you? Would you have even had the decency to tell me you’re not coming anymore?!!!!
You said you’ll help me with… What? Oh… I see… I’m sorry to hear. No, but… Yeah, OK, I get it…
Heeey, remember me? No? That’s strange… Well, we met last year during that conference when I helped you with… Still not remembering?
These are just a few of the dialogues going on in my life as I grew up.
People would make me suffer on countless occasions. Or so I thought.
Thirty years later, it became clear to me that it wasn’t them, but me.
Most of the people who made me suffer didn’t even want to do it.
Indeed, they didn’t care that I was a collateral victim. Yet, it’s not like they did it on purpose.
Today, instead of saying that people made me suffer, I prefer to say that I suffered in my relationships with others.
And it was because I had too many expectations.
When you have no expectations whatsoever, you don’t have disappointments either.
What’s more, all the good things that happen when you don’t have any expectations seem to have an even bigger dimension.
The nice thing you didn’t expect but happened is nicer than the one you expected and happened.
Set yourself free from expectations, and the pleasant surprises will outnumber the unpleasant ones.
I cried rivers. I worried for months. I stressed myself stupidly when people didn’t prove to be what I expected.
It wasn’t the disappointment of people not respecting their promises. It was the fact that I thought I deserved the things I was expecting from them.
I ended so many friendships because I expected too much.
Little did I know that, as popular wisdom goes, we never lose friends, but we simply learn who the real ones are.
The truth that set me free was the realization that nobody in this world lives for me.
Or with my needs and interests and desires as their point of reference and motivation.
As much as we love others, we always live for ourselves.
We act as we see fit for ourselves.
And while we may try to take other people’s feelings into account, sometimes we do it, other times we don’t.
People tend to remember the times you disappointed them and forget the times when you didn’t.
The two capital mistakes that make us unhappy in our relationships are that:
- We expect others always to do what’s best for us,
- We forget the times when the things they do coincidentally prove to be best for us.
We tend to remember the times when they don’t act as we expect and demand.
Our friends are our friends when they act as we expect. When they don’t, we suddenly become so judgmental and make it personal.
In reality, our friends always do what’s best for them, just like we try to do for ourselves. Sometimes, their best and our best intersect, and everyone is happy.
Many other times, things are far from perfect.
And so today…
I give, but I no longer expect to receive.
I’m so much happier when I do receive than I used to be.
I’m feeling comfortable in my shoes; I only need myself to feel good.
I still do tell the people from around me what I need; I think it’s important for them to know.
But I don’t make a tragedy when you seem to be concerned with something else.
Over time, it became evident to me which persons were doing their best to take me and my needs into account as much as possible and which ones couldn’t care less.
I learned to let go of unbalanced relationships with people who only want to take, take, take, but never find the time to give back anything.
And I don’t stress about things I can’t control.
Shitty-day-it’s-okay-I’ll-pour-some-tee-and-play-some-jazz it’s the attitude I try to foster in all the aspects of my life. Because there’s nothing I can do about the shitty weather (or shitty people), but I can do a lot about how I choose to feel and what I choose to focus on at the moment.
If my friend hasn’t called in a while, I call her to check if she’s OK.
If my sis hasn’t texted on WhatsApp in a day or two, I drop a photo of her nephew and ask her how’s the weather in her kingdom.
I stop putting pressure on others and just let relationships be.
I’m free of unnecessary pain.
I just choose when to show up and enjoy whatever good comes out of it.
You should try it too.