How We Craft Our Own Disappointments

We’re bad at the expectations game

If we were mindful of the hows and whys of our feelings, a thousand anomalies could emerge. But mindfulness can be challenging. After all, how much can we observe and question the meanings of everything we think or do?

We expect most from those who give the most without being asked

If someone is making adjustments and compromises for us, we expect them to do so even more. Have you noticed how you usually want the people that understand you well to understand you a little better?

These spontaneous demands know no bounds. We rarely take a moment to stop and be thankful. Being understood, even just a little, is one of the greatest luxuries one can enjoy.

And yet, the moment we find someone who can interpret most of our signals, we burden them with the expectation of deciphering all of them. And when they fail, we emit undue disappointment towards them instead of offering an abundance of satisfaction and gratefulness for how much they already do.

We shape expectations too

Of others, towards us. Often unintentionally. When we give, we set standards. When we give a lot, we set very high standards. And when we constantly give everything — we set standards of our own doom.

Since the ones we give to endlessly end up unknowingly associating us with receiving everything, the moment we fail a little we appear worse than those who never gave at all.

There’s something called the water-diamond paradox of value. Setting aside some details to simplify, diamond, a non-necessity, is priced very high because it’s supply is very limited; while water, a life-supporting element is priced very low (or doesn’t have a price at all) because its supply is abundant.

When supply is tight, an item appears expensive. That’s why unconditional givers are most often taken for granted. Those who take them for granted often don’t realize it.

Parents are obvious examples — they’re taken for granted all the time despite their devotion towards our upbringing and well-being. But if you’ve ever been blessed with immense amounts of love from any other source, you’ll see the analogy there too.

There are two kinds of people — givers and takers

The givers write their own tragedies, because they become inexpensive constant sources of boundless goodness that will always be there, and soon become background noise. They may someday eventually be missed, but only after they’re completely gone. But by then, the giver and the taker have both suffered what’s irrecoverable.

One could say, a giver needs a taker, and a taker a giver. Ive given and taken long enough to know, only a giver is true reward for another.

When two givers unite, they compete. They want to give their everything to one another, compelling one another to take. But as givers, they both know the value of what they take, feel grateful and indebted.

Adopt gratitude

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t ask for more from the one you get so much from. You’d ask for less. You’d say “enough”. Because you’d be burdened with the desire to give back or the incompleteness from failing to do so.

You wouldn’t take and grow, prosper and shine by climbing on the backs of those kneeling for you. You wouldn’t revel in the glory of your own greatness that was built from the beats of someone else’s heart — you wouldn’t forget where you started and how you came this far.

You would always reflect, thank, cherish and return. You would give back.

If you’re giving, stop trying to reach perfection. Otherwise, you’ll be depleted to nothingness and forgotten too soon.

If you’re taking, stop expecting perfection. Otherwise, you’ll lose the only ones that care enough (and are rare enough) to give and get lost in an ocean of takers.

Some of us may be blessed with givers that give forever and want nothing in return. But most givers do want something in return — being valued. Not reciprocity, not loud recognitions, but they simply want to see occasional glimpses of acknowledgement in the eyes of those who take from them.

When that bare minimum is missing, givers tread towards quiet extinction.

Expect, except perfection.

Be mindful of the journey so far, because humans are too distracted by the lustrous horizon to glance at the very paths that lead them forward.

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“Sugarcoats are not in fashion” • Economist, teacher, photographer • Stockholm, Sweden • All posts:

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