You’ll end up really disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.

You’ll end up really disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.

The first step in curing these issues is to drop expectations and attachment. 

Zen philosophy points to attachment as the root of so many issues.

Are you attached to things, people, outcomes, impressions, opportunities, etc.?

Do you calculate in advance the possibilities of how any of these variables actually tie together when life runs its course?  I believe we all do. If you put energy into a labor or job, you are attached to the outcome in several ways. You feel accomplishment at the completion of the task. You also seek reward for the effort in whatever compensation that task engenders. If you make an effort to dress for a job, a date, an occasion, you are attached to others feeling good about the way you look, to reinforce your expectations of such. If you are a collector of things, you are attached to your possessions and find great joy in having them.

So it seems normal that if you are in any kind of friendship, professional or personal relationship, you will be attached to the dynamic that this particular relationship brings you. And right there is the potential problem. If you do things for others with expectation of any form, you are creating an attachment to that outcome. It is akin to buying someone a gift that you are so excited to give them, and when they discover what it is…. You are waiting with anticipation of their reaction. If the reaction is positive, your attachment cycle has been fulfilled, and any reaction less than that allows your joy to start to decrease proportionately.

Such is the human dynamic. If you are the type of person who likes to do for others, then you are most wise to do it with the sole expectation that the act of doing it brings you the joy you seek. As soon as you attach your expectation to their reaction, you have already cut your joy short by limiting it to the reaction it engenders. You have no control over what they are feeling. Nor do you know their mood or extenuating circumstances in their world that preclude their ability to respond as you have fantasized. 

When you then expect that they will reciprocate in kind, that is where you find your largest potential disappointment. In that expectation, you have now transposed your feelings, your energy, your behaviors onto another, with hopes that they will not disappoint you. If you have just extended yourself on their behalf and they continue to deliver lackluster energy in response, you are left with a few options. The first is to become disappointed, because you had projected they would do for you as you have done for them. The second is to be disengaged, in which you have zero emotional response to whatever you get in return because you are more indifferent than not.

But the third option (I believe) is the healthiest one. In this option, you give and do for them because in doing so, it makes you feel wonderful. If they do not reciprocate, you do not have an emotional reaction. Their lack of reciprocity is genuinely secondary to the reason you do what you do. If their reactions are not what you seek, then find others with whom to share your gifts and let it go. 

If you can find your joy in just doing because it is what makes you, you….then you should do it with open heart and eliminate all attachment to the outcome. Just do it because it makes you feel wonderful. Then, if they are not on par with your efforts, you must learn to eliminate the disappointment that this makes you feel.

It is not an easy lesson. It takes strength, emotional stability and a willingness to encounter that disappointment with your human quality, feel that brief tang of getting less than might have returned, and then immediately drop it and continue just being you.

Happy Friday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!