Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan
Published — Friday 1 June 2012
Last update 1 June 2012 5:20 am
I remember that once a total eclipse of the moon was going to take place between 4:30 a.m. and 6: 00 a.m. Perfect timing! I was planning not to miss it. I gladly saw that the moon was right in front of my window. Perfect place! I set myself in a suitable position to enjoy the whole spectacle when something unexpected happened. The moon moved behind a tree. What a disappointment! I was determined not to give up and, every now and then, I could catch brief sights of the eclipse in progress while the branches were swaying in the wind. Then ... nothing more. The whole experience was lost.
A similitude came to my mind. We often prepare ourselves, make plans, do all that needs to be done in order to achieve a certain result. But then something — totally unforeseen — happens and things take a different course.
How to deal with the disappointment? We should face it "with a smile." There is very little we can do in front of situations that are beyond our control. Accepting willingly what we cannot avoid makes life easier (if not happier).
But let's talk a bit more about disappointment. Who has never been disappointed, raise their hand. No hands up? For sure!! Disappointment is one of the great mysteries of life. "How come?", you say, "I have done everything for him (or her, or them) and I get no acknowledgment, not even a 'thank you'!"
Another scenario: "I can't believe this, I had been assured I would get the promotion, because I am better than A. or B. and now he/she gets promoted." And even: "Oh no! I followed the recipe instructions to the letter and the cake didn't rise!" Big and little problems of everyday life that make you feel cheated, that make you feel you didn't get what you deserved, what you were entitled to.
But ... you know what? (And here comes the bad news!) You are entitled to "nothing." The problem arises when you expect people (and situations) to be they way you thought they should be. "Why does she never reciprocate my compliments? I am always so kind to her!." Or, "Why didn't he ask for my advice before buying his new car? Am I or am I not his best friend?."
Well... others are the way they are. If you feel like paying a compliment, go ahead and do it, but don't expect anything back. Your friend chose his new car without your advice? Fine. It's his right. He owes you nothing and you should not nurse expectations towards him or anybody/anything else.
So, here is the Big Truth! Do not have expectations. Do not create a scenario in your mind about how people should behave and things should happen. You have no power over them. You have power only over yourself, i.e. over you reaction to what happens. Are you ready to accept it? You had better be, because if are not ready, or if you refuse to conform yourself to this reality, you are heading for trouble. Or, maybe, you are just going to remain rooted in your old beliefs of "entitlement", your credo in your right to be accepted the way you are, while you keep being unwilling to reciprocate and accept others the way they are. It is another "me, me" conditioning that it would be worth disposing of.
— Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan, a Saudi English instructor
and published author (in Italy), is a long-time
scholar of positive thinking.
E-mail: [email protected]