In yesterday’s article, I spoke of how it is important to practice detachment in regards to your expectations. In today’s article, I would like to expand on the topic of needs and expectations as both play an active role in our interaction with ourselves and with others.
It is first important to define the difference between needs and expectations. Needs make up the very core of your being and exist on the most basic plane of reality. They can be physical, mental, or emotional and must be met in order to sustain you. On the other hand, expectations are both conditional and dependent upon a second party or factor. Yet expectations are no less important than needs. As humans, we are inherently imaginative beings (which is a good thing!) and cannot simply turn off our expectations. What would happen if we did? We would never dream and we would never create. We would never take leaps of faith, or risks, whatever you wish to call them. Ultimately, we could say that needs attend to our realistic selves while expectations attend to our more fantastical selves; they operate on different planes and yet they operate concurrently.
Now that we have defined the two terms and recognized them to be key components of our natures, the main concern of today’s article is to address the topic of needs and expectations as they relate to relationships. Once we have identified what our needs and expectations are of others- and they may change from person to person-, we must ask ourselves whether that person is both willing and capable to meet them. Both must be active for a healthy relationship.
I often hear people speak of best friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends with benefits, friends, acquaintances, enemies etc. Every relationship seems to require a label. But where do those labels come from and furthermore, how valid are they? One day we may call this person our ‘best friend’ and the next day we may have a new ‘best friend’, or we may have even gotten into a fight with that person. Poof, there goes that label. But what if, instead of breaking our relationships down into such finite terms, we simply ordered the people in our lives based on the ability and extent to which they were willing to fulfill our needs and expectations?
Labels come at a large price. The stakes go up when a relationship gets put into a specific category and disappointment often comes as a result of a relationship shifting from one category to another. Moreover, we often fail to recognize the ability that people have to change: We place people from the past into a category and years later, they are still in that same category! Why? Because we allow the labels to precede the person. Think of your high school class. How many people have you never spoken to and yet labeled? Labels exist in your inner circle- friends/boyfriends/girlfriends etc- and they exist in a broader sense in the form of stereotypes- nerd/jock/partier/loner.
At this point, you may be asking yourself how any of this is relevant to spirituality. My response to you is that in the spiritual world, labels hold no weight and are of negligible value. Everyday we must interact with others, that is a fact- unless of course we are living on a deserted island. For the ones on the spiritual path, there are no friends or best friends or acquaintances. There are no nerds or jocks or partiers. There are only people. The spiritual one orders– rather than categorizes- the people in their lives based on how capable and willing they are to meet their needs and expectations. A valuable point to ponder!