One of the best pieces of advice my late sister ever gave me was “Don’t expect everybody to be you.” My sister was a psychologist and interestingly we were both raised by a former Social Worker, so there was always a lot of advice going around.
Our parents raised us with a strong value system and they both believed in the “Golden Rule” – don’t treat others as they may have treated you, treat them as “you would want to be treated”. My sister reinforced that upbringing by reminding me that life was not always Tit-for-Tat, sometimes behavior would be disappointing, but ONLY disappointing if you expected folks to respond/react the way YOU would.
In our family at this time of sudden bereavement there have been discussions of “Oh we heard from so & so” or “She/he sent a beautiful card” or “What a beautiful Shiva basket!” (A “Shiva basket” is a way for friends to comfort and care for those who are mourning a loss) Of course, as all humans do, we also realize that we may not have heard from someone whom we had expected to.
My sister, Bobi, would explain that some folks cannot handle the idea of loss, either because of their own fears, or maybe they are also in a period of grief and cannot see beyond their own pain. If they have not offered words of comfort or even acknowledged your pain, they may not be able to as compared to not wanting to. Hence, “Don’t expect everybody to be you.”
This advice is solid and not just in times of grief. Someone may not react with delight over our accomplishments and joy, and we may feel that it dampens the mood. It is us that makes our own pleasure over happy times and, while it may be nice to receive the proverbial pat on the back, is it really vital? Would it make our own pride less or more? We know in our own hearts how we feel.
Sometimes someone we called a friend lets us down such as in the figurative stab-in-the-back. No, it isn’t right, but to react the same way because of disappointment lowers our own standards. While we need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from injury, emotional or physical, there is a level of being ourselves that we must maintain for we are the ones who need to live with ourselves and should not lower standards. True friends will stay by our sides, and those who are not true are not really vital to our day-to-day existence.