The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. – Tony Robbins
Through my teens and early 20’s, I often found myself drained and unfulfilled in my relationships. I often felt like I was giving more than what I was receiving. I often felt like I was the one searching for more connections and trying to deepen and make them more, well, real.
I had a constant yearning for real intimacy, closeness, and emotional support. I read tons of self-help books, went to therapy, and was always open to a variety of interests, hobbies, and views so I could make new friends to see if I could find anything “different”.
Despite all my efforts, I found myself feeling very frustrated and alone. I experienced several spouts of some really unpleasant depression in the moments where I felt most emotionally unsupported.
I had absolutely no idea what I had to do or change in order to turn things around. I had no idea what I had to do to get this emotional support that my heart had been yearning for.
One Tiny Thing That Changed the Course of my Relationships Was…
That is, until a few years ago where I finally came to major (and difficult) realization that has completely changed the course of my relationships. It is the idea that: Everyone, in this present moment, is doing the absolute best that they can do.
This can be a pretty tough pill to swallow — and it can also be a difficult concept to fully understand, so allow me to explain…
Everyone is doing the best that they can do right now given their present circumstances.
Every person’s upbringing, culture, life experiences, their health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual), and so on is exactly what has led them to be the person that they are today.
Yes, everyone also has personal responsibility for themselves. Everyone has the free will to educate themselves and make better choices in their lives. However, given their current level of consciousness (or self-awareness) everyone is, in fact, doing the best that they can do.
And so, considering that concept, is it truly fair to be holding a higher expectation of someone when they are already doing the best that they can do?
Is it fair to be wishing a friend would be more emotionally supportive of you when this friend has had no life experience to teach them how to even give emotional support?
This is where most of us find ourselves disappointed and unfulfilled: We hold a higher expectation of others than what they are able to actually give. We can’t be disappointed without expectation, so it’s important to be aware of the expectations that we have for others and to be willing to let them go.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean to have no standards at all. I don’t mean to ignore your desire to have emotional support because it’s important to acknowledge your own feelings.
But what I’m saying is to let go of the expectation for the person in your life who you wish would do it but has shown you that they are simply unable to give it to you.
For instance, if your grandmother has never been the kind of person to give you a shoulder to cry on, then let go of the expectation that one day she will. Let go of the hope that she will change and someday give you want you to want.
Instead, acknowledge your inner need and look for it in other places. Make new friends, move to a different area, join different groups where you hold a common interest — do whatever you can to find the people in your life that are in the place that can give you what you need rather than expecting that those who can’t, one day might give it to you.
When we let go of the expectations that we hold towards others and accept them for who they truly are, we open ourselves to the opportunity to find people in our life who can provide us with the emotional support that we know we deserve.