The Shadow

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with someone.  I don’t remember exactly what spawned the comment, but it was something that stuck with me.  She shared that she had been disappointed by people her whole life.   I was stunned because that would mean her expectations of those people where on an unreachable level.  It is as though she set them up to fail.   So for decades, this person has lugged around baggage from each person she has felt let her down.

I asked her if she felt that the disappointments had grown into a resentments.   But, she felt it didn’t.   My experience is if I keep reliving the situation then it blossoms into a large, oozing resentment that never heals.  They are painful reminders often distorted by our perceptions.  It is the equivalent of taking poison and expecting the other person to die.   Those expectations of others are tricky.   In her mind, her needs were not met.  She was left hurt.  That has been her reality.    And of course, let’s not forget that she had a part in that.  There are no victims in this dance of unrealistic expectations.  Sadly, her version only spotlights the other person’s shortcomings.

Like a highlighter, my experience shows that other people are not magicians.  They are not equipped to meet every one of my needs.    Interestingly enough, a couple of days ago, someone mentioned that while they used to focus on what others weren’t providing in terms of emotional support, they have now started to adopt a different way of coping.   What they feel they are missing from a relationship, they are giving that back.  So, for example, someone fails to show them compassion.  They in turn are compassionate to that individual.   Instead of wallowing in the lack of, they are immersing themselves in abundance.   It alleviates the disappointment and erases the resentment.   While the notion sounds uncomfortable, it exposes the possibility of not holding others hostage for one’s own happiness.

With the holiday season in full blown insanity, this might be the perfect time to try out this version of coping.   It certainly seems to put more of a sparkle in the tinsel than walking through life as a victim.

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