The God Complex
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
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There I was... disappointed again. Three years later and I could consciously name all the things I had gone out of my way to do only hoping that someone would want to do them for me in return. I never thought myself to be the person who performed an act of kindness with the intention for reciprocation. Until that one day when I could list all the services I had performed in a fit of rage exasperated at the fact that my efforts had not nearly been matched.
I've never expected "dollar for dollar," but I've learned that maybe unconsciously some reasonable return at the minimum. My reactions when I felt unmet came from places of deep despair. An idea, almost, that I was not worth the same effort I had extended. As I sat back to examine myself, per usual, I wondered if it would be to my own demise. Can I keep healthy relationships if I can't grasp the concept of "expecting nothing?"
We are conditioned to expect. Social conditioning is the process of training individuals in society to have certain beliefs, behaviors, desires and emotional reactions, which are approved by society in general or by certain groups within it. Your social conditioning begins when you’re just a small baby, and it’s most influential throughout your childhood and adolescence, but goes on your entire life. It’s typically carried out by parents, teachers, peers and people in your community, by the novels you read, the media, the church and the ads you see.
The most noteworthy mechanism of social conditioning is the repetition of the same simple messages, sometimes thousands of times over long periods from authority figures, until the mind absorbs them.
Our surrounding influences constantly repeat messages surrounding concepts like how we deserve to be treated and we in turn take these messages as rules, instead of exceptions or guidelines.
But here's some food for thought, as a great friend suggested: Could it be that because we desire to be God, we expect to be treated as such?
Let's gain some wisdom in acknowledging a few psychological facts:
Merely expecting something to happen will not make it happen. Children have something called "magical thinking." It's where they are unable to distinguish between the subjective world in their head and reality. Ex. A child that is angry with a sibling thinks that their anger could cause their sibling to trip and fall. Psychologists thought we outgrew this by the age of seven, however turns out that many normal adults continue to engage in various forms of magical thinking. Insert the huge popularity of "The Law of Attraction."
Humans have a bad habit of pinning their hopes and happiness to fulfilled expectations. Most of us are sane enough to realize that thinking about making a sibling trip, will not actually make them trip. Yet, many of us at some point have mistakenly believed that expecting other people to behave the way we want will actually make them behave that way.
What Are Healthy Expectations?
"It is only reasonable to expect that people will do what they say they will do. This is all we can reasonably expect - that people will keep their word."
People are different from you, and that doesn't mean they're bad. Acceptance of another's boundaries and truths brings about a kind of emotional safety and freedom.
Some helpful tips I'm learning:
Examine the Expectations of Yourself
Sure, you should always strive for personal development, but are your goals small and achievable or big swooping actions. Do you give yourself the flexibility to change or does everything need to be done perfectly?
Reconsider Your Expectations of Others
Do you have a mental list of things your partner, friends or co-workers should be doing to make you happy? If so, TEAR IT UP. DELETE IT. THROW IT AWAY!!!
When we hold expectations of others' behavior and link it to our own happiness, it is a recipe for disaster. We should instead focus on what we can give. (HARDEST THING EVER.)
In this, don't forget to respect your boundaries
Release Your Expectations of Events
Don't put your happiness in "something" happening. Just like you shouldn't put it on the behavior of a person.
Expect Nothing, Appreciate Everything?
This "ish" right here is where I constantly FAIL. I've been quoted the mantra more times than I'd like to hear and usually an internal battle ensues. How is it actually possible to expect nothing? Isn't expecting nothing, expecting something?
I'm taking a stab here at theorizing that the well-intentioned people that throw this statement around typically mean to expect little. I don't believe that having low expectations means you don’t “go for it,” establish goals, or have visionary dreams. But setting your expectations to zero maybe means that you're able to minimize the emotional setbacks that deplete and drain valuable energy.
Almost every time I find myself disappointed…it's because of an unmet expectation. When I'm able to accept an outcome as it is, I can rise from any fall, thus increasing my personal power of resiliency to move forward more quickly.
I don't want to write about this as if I've mastered the skill set and have this all figured out. In fact, I usually have a tendency to write about the things I'm working on or through, or just straight up struggling with.
This happens to be one of those topics that I constantly have to re-address with myself. So often I'm tempted to think that because I'm willing to give the world, someone else should be too. The process is super messy, but also, the baby strides that I do end up making in this area tend to be game changers in my overall ability to move on and let go of things I may have held on to for too long.
I don't know if I'll ever be perfect at this, but I do believe that the more strides I make in trying to be ultimately servant-hearted, the more like Jesus I'll become; and maybe, just maybe…I'll get more of that peace that surpasses even my own understanding.
Got a comment or advice on this post? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org