For years I convinced myself that if I became the absolutely most perfect human being, I could get the approval, love, and respect of certain important people in my life. I discovered that I will forever be perfectly imperfect. I also, finally, painfully realized that I cannot ever find ice cream at a furniture store. This became my metaphor for all those situations in which people I encounter expect something from another human being that the other person simply cannot give. People cannot give away what they do not have.
As long as you are looking for some kind of transaction with another human being whose heart pockets remain empty and whose soul seems to be a treacherous battlefield, you will likely walk away frustrated, dejected, heartbroken, demoralized, and empty-handed. You cannot and will not receive what you want or need from this individual.
How many times have you gone to another human being expecting or wanting something—love, kindness, respect, appreciation, acceptance? Deep down inside you might want their time, attention, some gifts, words of adoration, a pay raise— and these particular individuals do not have these things to give–and have not ever given— may not ever give this to you. Maybe these qualities have not been cultivated inside of them or they are focused on other pursuits or your long list of expectations don’t even register on their radar.
Some people can bring you a delicious meal, but they won’t ever listen to parts of your life story, watch romantic comedies with you, massage your feet, or hold your hand.
This does not make them wrong.
In the domain of transactional pursuits, you undoubtedly will run into not right fit situations. This also can become quite exhausting and unfulfilling, especially if you continue to insist inside your mind that this person or these individuals will magically one day become something they are not.
Unfulfilled needs and wants from long ago and far away might continuously grab the steering wheel of your life and drive you to the shopping mall where you make purchases of belongings that quickly become clutter in every room of your house. You wonder what happened to your beautiful home now filled with junk. You become curious about all your relationships that feel cranky, prickly, fussy, empty, lonely, unfulfilling, or worse.
Yet you persist in visiting furniture stores while your mouth craves a vanilla and chocolate swirl soft serve cone, a classic banana split, or a hot fudge sundae. And another part of you knows that even this treat won’t satisfy your deepest yearnings.
I’ve observed that most people want to be seen, heard, and valued. We want to know our existence matters to someone. We want to love and be loved in return, accepted for not just who we are, but who we believe we can become.
Some people yearn to be at peace inside, to create something that brings joy to other people. Other people experience great passion for solving problems. They want things and technology to work properly, to make the world a safe place to live. Other people want to express what’s bubbling up to be said, written, painted, sung or danced. Some people focus on healthy relationships, their spiritual evolution, and contributions to their community. Other people have adventurous free spirits anchored by the love and support of beloved ones. Some people want to get their body out of bed in the morning filled with gratitude for another day of precious life. Other people use their artistry to paint houses, build vehicles, construct buildings, repair plumbing leaks, pick up trash, deliver groceries, and care patiently for really sick or dying people.
People need clean water, healthy food to eat, a place to come in out of the snow and rain to be dry and warm. People, especially children, need to know they belong, that they are lovable and loving.
Some people choose consciously to evolve beyond the limiting beliefs and expectations of their family, culture, or society. These individuals often become willing to brave the wilderness of isolation and rejection as they learn to make deep peace within themselves, to know the immortal diamond of value and beauty inside that remains untouched by the opinions of others, the amount of money in a bank account, dishes in a cabinet, or necklaces in a jewelry box. These individuals often find other people who found liberation in the outback.
Have you taken the time to stop and ponder what you actually need or want? For your life? In relationships with other people? In relationship with your wild, wonderful, multifaceted, complicated self? Do you know that all the love you ever wanted lives inside of you?
Next time you hear yourself complaining about a shopping experience or a relationship with another person, pause to listen quietly for what you actually need, for what’s up underneath the mismatched dissatisfaction, and trust yourself to take care of you, your needs, and your heartfelt desires. Turn the car around and take yourself out for some ice cream or a walk in a park, or for a date with your very best friend in the whole wide world.
May you discover that love, compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, mercy all live abundantly inside of you. May you generously give freely from this ever-present, eternal, energy source of love and life itself.