Someone recently lamented to me about constantly experiencing disappointment in the light of other people’s promises.
“When people tell me they’ll do something, or say something particularly positive and appealing, I swallow it – hook, line and sinker. But nine times out of ten, I find out they never really meant it. Or they were just being polite. Either way, it leaves me feeling incredibly low.”
I know how they feel. And every time someone fails to be authentic in what they say or offer to me, it’s another blow to my courage in remaining vulnerable and authentic in myself.
My friend was conflicted, searching for reasons: “Does believing what they say make me optimistic or just plain gullible? Am I being naïve? I feel I’m in danger of becoming cynical about these things.”
It’s a tricky one. Many of us love the refreshing optimism and idealistic outlook that children display, an attitude they hold until the hard realities of life teach them otherwise. Yet it’s all too easy to fall into cold hard cynicism, expecting nothing more than disappointment and pain from people because experience has taught us that this is what invariably happens.
My friend has decided to begin the long, difficult process of adjusting her expectations of other people.
“I want to trust people and believe the best of them,” she said sadly, “but maybe I’m looking for affirmation in all the wrong places.”
Gives me food for thought. How about you?