Ever heard of the biblical saying, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you?” You don’t need to be religious to understand the meaning or to abide by it. Just because you live by a certain moral and ethical code, it doesn’t mean others do.
Over time I’ve grown to realize that living my life this way would one day reward me on many different levels. At the same time, I’ve also learned that having expectations of other people and how they live is wrong because everyone has free will. Just because you respect someone else’s time and planning doesn’t mean that they have to return the favor. People will say that respect is earned, but this is not always the case. You’ll meet people who simply refuse to respect you regardless of what you have or haven’t done, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
I’m huge on being a person of my word. I follow through on what I say I will do, and I expect others to do the same. My biggest pet-peeve is people who are flakes or vow breakers. I can’t stand them. Even if I were on my deathbed (literally) but I’m expected somewhere, I’ll insure to let someone know in advance that I won’t make it because I am dying. No joke. I’d let them (professional or personal) know as soon as possible. For example, in May we had to change plans and not go to the movies with dear friends Eric and Natalie (who are exactly the same way; they’re extremely reliable) because my water broke with my daughter. So, my partner found someone else to take our place. As we sat in the hospital waiting for the nurse to check on me and I was in between contractions, we texted Eric and Natalie to let them know as soon as possible that we’d have to break our date for good reason. And even then, there was still a part of me that was trying to figure out how I could get out of the hospital in time to meet them.
Granted things happen, but I find it highly disrespectful and offensive when people wait until the very last-minute to call off a date or in some cases not even bother changing their RSVP until the 11th hour. Even though they’ve known all day or all week that they were not feeling well or that they couldn’t make it. I have gotten down right pissed off about this. Because it says to me that my time is not respected. Especially when, the roles being reversed, I always stick to my word, my end of the bargain. And if I have to change plans you better believe I notify those involved way in advance unless it’s an emergency. I am like that with friends. I am like this with family. I am like this with acquaintances. I am like this with people I don’t get along with. I am like this with my work. If a project is going to take me longer, I let those involved know about it. Out of sheer respect and to avoid misunderstandings I try to exercise direct, concise and clear communication.
The one thing I’ve always been told is that, rain or shine, I am extremely reliable. I am not an excuse maker.
So, naturally, up until recently I have gotten really upset when things feel one-sided. When I was pregnant, my partner’s brother and sister-in-law didn’t come up to us once to congratulate us. They seemed uncomfortable the entire time, because as we found out later that they assumed they’d be the ones to “have the baby first.” I couldn’t believe it. I was upset about that. I expected a “we’re happy for you” or “congratulations” or some form of positivity. Once I took my emotions out of the equation, I learned a very big lesson. Aside from the fact that we can all be egocentric and ignorant of the world outside our bubble, I started to understand one of the biggest life lessons yet, this being that no one owes me anything. No one owes you anything either. Sound harsh? Well, it’s true.
The Bottom Line:
No one owes you an e-mail response. No one owes you a courtesy call or text message. No one owes you that freeway lane even if you have the right of way. No one owes you an open door even though they see that your hands are full and that you could use help. No one owes you a “like” on Facebook even though you “like” their posts all the time. No one owes you their happiness for your success. No one owes you empathy and compassion for your troubles and struggles. No one owes you a smile or a hello or a good morning. No one owes you kindness, a favor or a microsecond of their time. No one owes you anything. Let me repeat. No one owes you or I anything.
So, if you have reciprocity in your life with decent humans (regardless if they are professional or personal contacts) count yourself lucky. If you have humans in your life who actually respect your time and value you as an individual enough to respect your time and energy, count yourself blessed. But, for your own sanity do yourself a big favor. Don’t expect anything from anyone. Continue to live your life by how you’d like to be treated, but keep your expectations low or, better yet, don’t have any, whatsoever. The result will be that you won’t be disappointed. And if you are surprisingly greeted with kindness, a smile, a nice conversation, and a courtesy call back then consider it to be a truly abundant day and pay it forward.