Just under one week until Christmas! This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love the holidays. One reason I love the holidays is because it represents the only time of year where I actually give myself a break in regards to work. Late December is the time I’m actually permitted (within my own mind) to take a break from “the grind.” I certainly take other breaks and vacations throughout the year, yet each comes with a level of guilt because I’m not working when I could be. I think part of this is due to the expectations I believe others have of me, yet it’s also related to the expectation of hard work wired within. I’m working on shedding this “conditioning” to permit more balance in life by granting more time for my faith and personal life throughout each year. How about you, what do you enjoy most about the holidays? Do you struggle giving yourself the space for work-life balance, or are you also plagued by guilt?
I walked out of Starbucks yesterday while holding my typical coffee and breakfast sandwich. This particular Starbucks is a standalone building that sits up against a major street on one side, and is in the parking lot of a shopping center/grocery store on the other. The shared parking lot is where you park to visit this Starbucks. I heard the revving of an engine to my right as I began walking across the parking lot toward my car. An SUV had just turned from the main road and was barreling toward the Starbucks drive thru line, which was to my left. I was clearly in the middle of the parking lot while heading toward my car, yet the driver didn’t seem to care. The gal actually sped up despite me walking in her path. I can only assume she didn’t want to be inconvenienced by letting me cross. I stopped and she sped by. I looked at her in disbelief (admittedly some disdain as well) as she drove by. She gave me a subtle wave as she passed, figuring to “thank me” for staying out of her way, or perhaps to apologize for her rudeness. Either way, I was dumbfounded.
I’ve been thinking about expectations a lot lately. I even posted a blurb about not feeling obligated to meet others expectations on Instagram on Tuesday, knowing a deeper dive was coming via this post. I walked to my car after the lady sped by with my ego flaring up. How could she not stop for a pedestrian? Even worse, how could she actually speed up? I’m sure she knew her driving was dangerous. Was her getting to the drive thru 5 seconds sooner really more important than my well being? Was her time more precious than my time? Didn’t anyone ever teach her that pedestrians have the “right of way” in a parking lot? Ugh… my EGO was so upset and annoyed!
After feeling slighted by this particular gal, I shifted my thinking. I realize that I have expectations of how people should do things based on what I’ve been taught is the “right way.” In essence- she should yield to me because that’s what I was taught, and I think most would agree in this particular situation. However, I also realize that I have built-in expectations that far exceed how someone treats pedestrians in a parking lot. Yes, this particular situation upset me, yet I realize it upsets me mainly because I would have treated her differently if our roles were reversed. How about you, can you relate? Do you feel slighted, wounded or upset by other people’s careless treatment of you, even if it’s a complete stranger?
I believe we all have hard-wired expectations of others based on beliefs that are probably unfair to all parties. Why should we get upset at someone else for doing something differently than we would? Silly example: I personally believe there is a certain way to fold a t-shirt; yet others have been taught to fold t-shirts differently. We both believe our way of folding a shirt is “right,” which naturally indicates the others’ way is wrong. When reflecting on times where my ego flares up, often it’s because I believe “my way” is the “right way.” However, if we get upset every time someone else does something “wrong” because it’s different than how we’ve been taught, doesn’t that actually harm us? I allowed a lady to stir me up inside and ruin a few minutes of my day because of how she drove in a parking lot. I actually let her speeding past me impact my self-worth for a split second. Why in the world would anyone allow someone else’s actions to impact self-worth? Why did this lady speeding toward me a parking lot impact me so drastically? How often do these instances happen to you each day? Probably too often if you’re anyone like me!
I wish we could just “turn off” the ego-centric parts of self that have been created via perspectives built over time. I suppose being aware limits the impact made on situations like what happened in this parking lot. I eventually chuckled yesterday at the thought of the lady waving and how much I flared up momentarily. My perspective isn’t right. Her perspective isn’t right. We all have our own perspectives based on how we choose to see the world. We all have perspectives based on a lens built by those who taught us. We also have a choice to see the good despite negative circumstances (big or small). I want to view situations like yesterday morning with a chuckle, not anger or frustration. What I can say is that I had expectations of how she “should drive” and probably shouldn’t have. I had expectations in a parking lot of someone I’ve never even laid eyes on before. I projected my beliefs onto a complete stranger and became upset when she didn’t follow through the way I thought she should. I think I need a shift in perspective moving forward! Maybe you can relate?
I believe we all have a conscience that guides us regarding right and wrong. I also believe this is a spiritual barometer of sorts, and where we are in life can determine whether we’re able to “tune in.” Perhaps people gripped by ego and negative circumstances can easily forgo human decency, empathy, love and kindness. Perhaps people gripped by gratitude and God’s grace can more easily show decency, love, empathy and kindness. My expectations yesterday of a complete stranger helped me realize just how ridiculous my ego can be regarding how others “should act.” Perhaps when we’re tuned in we can better implement the universal strategy of “treat others how you want to be treated.” BTW- notice this statement doesn’t say “treat others how you want to be treated, and be really frustrated when others don’t do the same.” This statement doesn’t project expectations on others to follow suit, it simply addresses one person’s vantage point of kindness (our own). Let’s also not forget, if we’re treating others poorly, we’re most likely projecting outwardly toward others how we truly feel internally about ourselves.
I was walking through a parking lot. I realize now that this incident served as a reminder not to place expectations on others to treat me as I would treat them. The only thing I can control is my half, while others control their own. Our best action is treating others the same way we would like to be treated without the expectation of reciprocation. We can choose to give grace, even to those who aren’t giving it to themselves or to us. We can choose to be a light, even if others try barreling through to dim our shine. Finally, we can commit to loving ourselves internally so we more easily project kindness and love toward others.
I’m trying to limit my expectations of others and focus on self-love so I can be a light to the world. How about you? Let’s be happier. Let’s be kind. Let’s shake off others’ ability to steal our light. Let’s focus on our half and not expect others to do the same.
Smile, it’s Christmas time! 🙂 I pray we’re all able to enjoy this season with loved ones and embrace the blessings of Christmas, while never forgetting what this holiday truly represents.
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