Expectations Do Breed Frustrations

One day, when a group of people were shouting insults at Jesus PBUH, he looked at them and gracefully said that “If what you are saying is true then may God forgive me but if what you are saying is untrue then may God forgive you”.

His companions who were about to retaliate were furious at the response. They throw insults at you and you pray for them?, they complained. He told them that a man can only give that which he possesses. What he meant was essentially that no one can squeeze out of him that which is not in his being. But something else must have also been at work here. Jesus wasn’t surprised or caught off guard by the insults nor by the wish of his companions to retaliate; he wasn’t angry at neither because his expectations were measured.

Obviously we can’t be Jesus and the best we can do is to seek what he sought and at those times when we are in the sky and can see things without barriers, with more clarity, we shouldn’t expect everyone to see it the same way because expectations do breed frustrations.

Qualities such as loyalty, charity, integrity and service can’t be taught, they can only be learnt and so much of the bad things people do they can’t be forced to outgrow. There is no academy for such things. What are we to do? Perhaps if we start by ‘Acceptance’, we might eventually manage to entice.

If you do understand that money is not a goal in itself but only a tool or that greed and arrogance can shake family unity or tear relationships apart, you are perhaps dancing to a different drummer. Expecting the same from everybody is of little use. To the contrary, it could lead to the opposite of what you hope for. It could strain relationships further.

Being up there where we see things better doesn’t mean we are looking down at people, it doesn’t imply arrogance. We are merely accepting where people are at a given moment in time. We are not pretending to accept, we are genuinely acknowledging their humanness and their depth. These are our moments of clarity.

When we are back on the ground and can’t see as clearly, it would be nice if others are up there with a better view who gently guide us through the terrain. Wouldn’t that be nice? Expecting too much of people is bound to cause frictions, misunderstanding, anger, conflict and eventually pain and heartache. It is no exaggeration to claim that expecting too much from people has caused tragedies. Families have been broken, children separated from their parents and lives ruined.

When people say bad things to us or otherwise infringe upon us, it may be natural to assume that what they hold in their hearts is far worse. But the opposite could be true as well if we consider that people are just people and quite ordinary at that. That they are prone to occasionally thoughtlessly blot out things or behave in such ways that are far worse than their true feelings.

Why when we talk about our dead (May God have mercy on their souls) we usually talk of them favourably? Did they never mistreat us or infringe upon us? Of course they have. But either consciously or otherwise, we choose to pardon them. Once they are gone, we somehow find it easier to accept their humanness, their imperfections and their proneness to error. The same choice can be made towards the living or can’t it?

When a child jumps on our stomach while we are napping on the couch or when a mad man does something insane, why don’t we normally get angry or retaliate? Why is it easier to accept? It is because we expect from them those kind of conducts. Conflicts in my opinion, arise more not because we don’t give people enough credit. Quite the contrary, it is by expecting too much from or of them.

Time flies and waiting for people to change so that we might treat them better or differently is risky. Maybe, just maybe, by understanding their limitedness we enhance the chances of helping them meet some of our best expectations of them.

Why are they fighting over money? Why is he arrogant? Why they are willing to risk relationship because of greed? Why he mistreated me? Why? Why?

When such questions arise consider Aristotle’s reply below. A man was shocked to witness a man kill another because of food! He went and asked Aristotle: why would a hungry man kill his fellow man only for food!?

“I would have been surprised if he did not!,” the philosopher replied.

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