What Oliver Taught Me: When you are faced with a difficult situation and need help, do you ever become upset if someone you expected to help you, doesn’t? I think if many of us were to be honest, it is human nature to sometimes put expectations on our relationships. Speaking for myself, I rarely ask for help but there are times in life when help is necessary. To feel as though you are being slighted by friends or family who choose not to help is something that I think most of us struggle with, mostly because we tend to keep mental tallies in our heads. “I did X, Y, and Z for so-and-so, therefore they should return the favor.” It’s an active effort to not think that way sometimes and that’s okay. We are only human, right?
One of the most difficult times in our lives was when we lost almost everything in Hurricane Sandy. We were so grateful to have a place to live (at my parents’ house) while we were sorting through the destruction and mess the hurricane left behind. We needed help and lots of it. We were desperate for help with trying to salvage pieces of our home and lives, desperate for help moving things out, desperate for help tearing the house down to the sub-flooring. We were simply desperate.
We had some help and for that, we were humbled and grateful. There were also many people whom I felt let-down by, who didn’t choose to help whether it was physically or even emotionally supporting us. It was something that took me a long time to work through and it was on my walks with Oliver in our temporary neighborhood–watching him react and be so grateful for every person he met–that I realized I needed to stop placing expectations on the relationships in my life. People who want to help and can help, will. If people choose not to help, it doesn’t always mean they don’t want to; maybe they simply can’t.
Obviously, Oliver didn’t know our home was destroyed by a hurricane. All he knew was he was living at his “grandparents’ house” and that meant four extra hands to scratch his butt. All he saw was people to meet and make smile in his new neighborhood. He would sit on the front lawn while the neighbors walked over to visit him, pet him and give him love. He saw all of it as a bonus and he was filled with pure joy. I needed to be like Oliver. I needed to view the help we received as a bonus and needed to stop expecting people to act in the ways I wanted them to act. I needed to feel gratitude for those who could help us.
I want to be someone who does good things for people simply because I want to, not because I need something in return. Relationships should not be based on expectations. Doing good for others should not be a transaction. Are you someone who places expectations on relationships with friends and family?