Expectation and perfectionism

Sunset panorama, Southern California

Sunset panorama, Southern California

Gateway to resentment

I was at a social event where an elderly person stated that this life we were leading was hell. Her pronouncement sent shock waves through the dinner party. I felt a brief annoyance, which gave way to compassion. Her world view was such that she could justify to herself and others that we lived under a punishing God and that her eternal torture had already begun.

She, a professed devout Catholic, was surrounded by family. We had sat down at a delicious meal in a house with a huge picture window with a panoramic view of bucolic rolling hills. It was the feast celebrating the birth of her Savior, a time when people gather and good feelings abound, yet she chose suffering for herself.

Why do we do this? My initial judgement of her was not helpful. I needed to seek compassion and understanding.

She assesses herself a perfectionist. She likes to get "her way." Others sense this need and retaliate, withdrawing from her. Have I not myself been guilty of this behavior? Many times, as it turns out. This person's behavioral example was a great learning opportunity for me.

When we indulge in resentment due to dashed expectations, what is the payoff? We get to judge and separate ourselves from others and perhaps even treat them badly. That is cold comfort indeed. One trades the potential for love and unity with others for bitterness and isolation. These are the ultimate "booby" prizes, the door at the gameshow that reveals something no one wants, to a comic fanfare of trombone and tympani.

What can I do in this moment to escape such a fate?

I can accept. Expectation that others change their behavior for me dooms me to hell on earth.

I can accept her as she is and not judge her as someone who can't evolve. The truth is she can and will. Evolution is nature's way. I can show extra kindness when confronted with bad behavior, although it seems a difficult choice.

When I choose this way, I feel better. It's a "win-win."

When we meditate regularly we give ourselves the chance to feel unity with God, with nature, and with other beings. Our natural state and our birthright are bliss. Once we have this bliss, we can share it. This world, to some a living hell, can slowly evolve into heaven on earth.

Morning looking east, Los Angeles

Morning looking east, Los Angeles