EXPECTATION AND REALITY
Maybe you are new to the idea of living a virtuous more purified, even "spiritual", life. You might be someway along a path - "Truth is One, Paths are many" - and are understanding and purifying and making good your thoughts, actions, and behaviour. It may sound elemental, but we mustn't expect others to share the same goals, aspirations, priorities, relate to life in the same way that we are, or to behave in the same way that we are.
If we do, then it shows that WE have a problem, that we are being naive, that we have yet to nurture and grow the essential social skills of understanding human behaviour and wise social discernment(sanskrit: viveka) - making the socially wisest choices. Life will bring along the lessons that teach us this wisdom and we will all make mistakes and life will be challenging at many times during the course of one lifetime. The same social situations will keep arising in our life until we learn how to nurture social discernment
Expectation and autism
Due to the amount of poisonous toxins in our environment, food, and water, and the widespread practice of parents using the TV and personal computer to entertain and "educate" their children autism is on the increase throughout the world. When we are at any point on the autistic spectrum from mild to severe, we are most certainly having a very challenging time learning Viveka. It could be that, and i am only expressing an idea here, autism is a direct focused lesson on this part of life for the souls suffering the condition.
Guidance for better social interaction
These are simple ideas if you are having problems "getting it right" in social situations. If you keep picking the wrong partner, wrong group of workmates, wrong friends. These decisions and choices will change over the course of our lifetime, as we change, so too will the sorts of people we want in our life - "as within, so without."
- Self Respect and respecting others: Learning good social manners makes life easier for everybody and allows us to retain our self-respect and also is a sign of having respect for others. Even if we really find somebody else bothers us and we don't like their attitude to life or behaviour, we can still treat them with respect and always treat yourself with self-respect. Of course, we will all make mistakes (see "Mistakes" below). Often, the person who is behaving so badly (in our eyes) may never have been properly loved or treated with respect, so they don't know what these things. In situatons that we have less control over; like extended family, friends-of-friends, the work place, we can still treat others with basic respect and tolerance, and without having to get closely involved with them.
- Remember that, at all times except when in work and some extended family relationships, you have the choice of who you want to encourage or discourage from being in your life.
- Pause our usual behaviour if it is not working for us: Don't panic. Take it easy, but be professionally reserved whilst you give yourself the time and focus to return to the social situation and just observe how others behave. We are going to try to interject some critical thinking concerning the people you work or live with. Go to the washroom or car park and do some quiet relaxation breathing. Say you are having "a breath of fresh air". On returning, be more reserved and observing.
- Critical observation: Watch how you and others behave. Do this in a quiet and friendly manner. Don't put out a hostile atmospher or start "staring at everyone". Create a peaceful, reserved, "safe in your own space", professionally friendly atmosphere about you. Observe others from this safe space and make your wise decisions about who you want as friends and who you don't.
- Question yourself: Simply ask yourself "Will befriending so-and-so be good for me? Do they share the same attitude and behaviour to life that I do?"
- You are in control of your decisions: It takes time, but we eventually understand that we are ultimately in control of our social decisions (unless we are in a "social tyranny" situation - where others won't allow us to make our own social decisions. Sometimes, in the case of the parent-child/adolescent relationship, this is from love and discernment that we haven't yet mastered, and sometimes it is pure social tyranny in the case of an authoritarian society - like a fascist or communist system where you simply do as you are told and you are not allowed to make your own decisions.)
- Don't be a martyr yet don't be automatically cold hearted - balance, conscious self development, and experience will eventually help us overcome this and other "social problems": A martyr is a personality type where somebody who has not mastered their own social behaviour, automatically takes on all the pain and problems of anybody they meet. This is usually because of childhood and adolescent experiences. Any automatic social behaviour can get us in a lot of trouble. Martyr have yet to develop self-respect and social discernment and they can become quickly involved in people that are not good for them to be involved with. This, and any other unchecked, unknown, automatic social behaviour, can only be sorted out by "conscious self development". You can visit the HELM Study Guide here and the "Understanding/purification/balance page" here.
- Use "white lie" excuses: a "white lie" is an excuse that isn't truthful but is a polite "No thanks" with a harmless excuse within it. We use them as a matter of social politeness, so we can say "no thanks" in difficult situations, and nobody gets hurt. They help oil the "social machinery of life". We use them when to say our truth might hurt the other person. Learn to politely decline and "white lie" excuse yourself from social situations with those you don't want to get near to. Harmless excuses that hurt none are very useful and wise tools to use in an awkward situation. There is no need for any unpleasantness or personal nasty remarks when politely declining social invitations of whatever kind
- Being on the receiving end: Don't take it personally, we are honoring the others right to make their decisions and live with the consequences. It is a basic human right, whatever the situation, for each individual to make our social decisions, change our mind at anytime, start, pause (have a break when things aren't working out in any relationship), and stop relationships, and live with the consequences, and this is going on all around us, everyday, and we will be on the receiving end of others decisions. Perhaps if the same situation and/or circumstance keeps happening, then we need to have a good look at our current attitudes and behaviours in life and sort out what we think is right, and let go of what we feel is wrong. My "Understanding and Purifying Our Behaviour" page looks at this "self modification" process in detail - you can visit it here.
- Mistakes and making changes to our life attitudes and behaviours: We all make mistakes. Have love, forgiveness, and compassion for yourself and for loved ones when we do make these mistakes, and then act to socially disconnect from the person(s) that you need to disconnect from. This doesn't have to be a huge melodramatic experience, in fact it is best if we handle it in a sensible, calm, pleasant, harmless, down to earth manner. Many times, we just have to keep making those "white lie excuses" which are "NO" in disguises, until the other realises that you are politely saying "No thanks." Once again, understanding our body, mind, emotions, and social responses - conscious self development - is the way to self-improvement and less-painfully overcoming the way our behaviour is working against us. We are learning to understand and master ourself so that we can bring our best qualities to life.
Appointment and Disappointment
The mismatch between expectation and reality might results in 'disappointment." We have an appointment, we expect people, places, events, and things to be a certain way, if the event mismatches our expectations we get "dissed", and we get "dis-appointment."
We can recognise a number of key pieces in the Disappointment Process.
First you need a detailed image of how things will be, or should be, or ought to be.
Then you have to spend some time developing this image, making it more idealistic and practically living in it.
Finally you compare the reality with your fantasy and become upset because they do not match!
Of course, this only produces a somewhat mild state of disappointment. To experience REAL disappointment - the kind that leads to either depression or anger - you have to then spend some time berating the fact that the two images do not match, and generally blaming yourself and/or other people for this disappointment!