When People Don’t Act the Way I Expect I Turn to Gratitude Over Frustration

Jill Eng

It’s been one of those weeks where a couple of people have not been in touch as I expected. It has thrown me and now I have to recalibrate prior expectations.

I am generally prepared for this kind of thing as life naturally shifts from one status to another. Sometimes it’s big things but the little ones that usually work I don’t expect to move out of whack.

I try to memorize people’s patterns for my sanity. I generally don’t expect things from folks who typically don’t behave in certain ways. I find it silly to depend on them for actions they don’t commonly do.

I alter my overall mindset regarding that person and lower my standards. If I need them in my life I accept that they don’t necessarily provide what I want but do offer something else I appreciate.

I depend on the lowest common denominator and move on. I don’t want anything on my mind that is burdensome or pulls me away from happiness and stability.

But when the lowest common denominator falls through the trap door of my brain cells I am disturbed. Now I have to reset again because they are being unreliable in ways I did not anticipate.

The thing about people being out of touch is that it makes you think something’s wrong if it’s not their usual manner. I mean something bad has happened to them.

Are they sick? Is someone close to them in the hospital, and they just have no way to even send me a three-word text to say I’m very busy right now I’ll get back to you?

It’s the erratic behavior that confuses me. When someone is in touch in a way that makes me think they will continue the flow but then bam it just stops.

There are two people dear to me whose personalities tend to make them go in and out. But I know them well so I study their patterns.

They care about me immensely so I know it’s not about that. Nevertheless, I get frustrated with awful communication skills. As I said earlier, I generally try to change my expectations so as not to be irritated by inconsistencies.

But this week, simultaneously, these two people are completely unsettling my rhythm.

I become defensive, not emotionally, but strategically and practically speaking so I can adjust my needs and not rely on things that aren’t there.

It just reminds me how I can’t get completely attached to anything even if it seems like the simplest thing because people’s lives are in constant flux even when they believe they can show up regularly.

I have confidence in both these individuals that I will sooner than later know the reasons they are currently incognito.

I hope.

If not, I will stop turning to them for even the basic things I was assuming would flourish.

Life’s doors are always opening and closing. People come and go unexpectedly. Projects arise and dissolve surprisingly. Careers begin and fold beyond my imaginings.

No matter how much I know this to be true, when there’s an element of novelty in any trajectory — whether it’s with people, places, or things — I am knocked off course, picking pieces up again.

It is why I’m naturally drawn to non-attachment. I also lean on gratitude with an attitude of knowing that if there is a temporary or permanent loss of something, there is some silver lining.

I glean this either by changing my perspective or noticing something else that has arisen that is bringing me joy.

One of my favorite quotes is by Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way. She said, “Let your good come from where it will, not from where you will it.”

I open my eyes to what I call life gestures or perks. These can be things I may have overlooked or taken for granted, or not recognized as an uplifting condition in my life.

It can also be to point out to myself how a small event emerged out of nowhere, reminding me that when I’m disappointed with some circumstance, somewhere on my horizon there will be a new perk of light.

It makes me think of sizzling popcorn popping. It’s exciting because of the newness and rebirth of each kernel morphing into a tasty treat that is edible and accessible.

When I watch the pot I get caught up with the kernels that are popping but then get alerted to all the new ones that follow!

Or while sitting at the beach on a cloudy day staring at the sky. I suddenly see the sun peering out and a few minutes later it’s glistening with warming radiance.

My mind seems to be trained to seek out life gestures and perks because I don’t have a lot of tolerance for dwelling in sadness and frustration. I do mourn my losses — and pain in the world will always be abundant.

I am simply aware that it’s easier to notice that than it is to dwell on the happenings that enliven and enrich my existence.

If I pay more attention to the subtle details of my everyday life I stay mentally afloat without sinking too deeply into dissatisfaction with where I thought I was headed.

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 0

Published by

I am a mindfulness author and teacher. I blog on healing from emotional trauma, guilt, anxiety, divorce, relationships, women, writing, parenting, and gratitude.

Portland, ME

More from Jill Eng

Comments / 0