I have been thinking a lot lately about expectations; specifically, what we as a species believe life should bring vs. what is actually experienced. People seem so disappointed and cheated when life events differ from their own perceived reality. I wonder if the angst and emotional distress could be mitigated if we changed the way we think.
It seems to me that many of us grow up as members of one of two distinct groups.
Some of us are raised as children in the belief that life is a wonderful adventure filled with an abundance and joy, a concept that is reinforced by family, media, pre-schools, etc. This environment is thought to be the preferred way of nurturing our young and laying the foundation for a happy life. At first glance, who could argue with this logic? But could we be setting up our young to be ill-equipped to handle life’s disappointments? Unlike the blissful world of a child, as we age it is discovered that not all parents love each other and stay married, people sometimes hurt each other, many get sick, go hungry, and suffer emotionally and physically. Worst of all, death, a concept rarely if ever discussed, becomes a stark reality.
On the other hand, some children grow up in a totally different environment, one devoid of happiness and mired in negativity. These children are aware of the good things that can happen, but their dreams and hopes are often stifled by unfortunate life events and they become jaded and hardened by their experiences. This group is well prepared for life’s misfortunes due to such events, however, the positive things in life are what they have trouble integrating.
There is little balance between the two groups. The first group often starts with a life filled with love and compassion, and the illusion slowly starts to deteriorate before their eyes, often leading to depression, stress and disenfranchisement. The second group expects the worst and often has trouble letting light into the darkness. This begs the question as to whether or not we can change our world by rearing our children with a more balanced viewpoint. After all, our expectations are based upon our early beliefs, and we later find that those expectations most often don’t match what actually happens.
Perhaps we can make progress in this regard by relying more upon our spiritual side than our materialist viewpoint. This can only happen if we are open to the possibility that our lives have meaning and purpose, and we are connected to a greater reality.
I know; easier said than done! But why?
If our parents and caregivers talked more often about the nature of life, its peaks and valleys, and the underlying current of love that we have the opportunity to uncover, perhaps the everyday mishaps can be better tolerated. How many of us have encountered a situation that we thought was a major event: an insult by a friend, an inconsiderate remark by a boss, someone cutting you off on the road, something that got your blood boiling? Miraculously, a couple of days later the incident becomes a faded memory, permanently filed with the rest of the insignificant snapshots of daily life. Stepping back from this meaningless clutter requires a broader perspective, one that reminds us that there are deeper principles of life to be recognized and contemplated.
It may not seem logical, but I believe that changing expectations starts with the subject of life after death – it has to. If our basic thought process begins with the belief that life is a continuum of opportunity, we will live our lives with more meaning and less fear. We need to make that a part of the conversation that we have with our children.
The current thinking is that good parenting skills incorporate shielding our young from the concept of death, and I can certainly understand why. Children are precious, innocent and vulnerable, and the concept that those who surround them might go away for good can be frightening or traumatizing. However, approaching the subject with creativity, honesty and tenderness is not beyond our capabilities. Ask any adult who has had a significant personal after death communication or experience, and you will most likely hear about how they lost their fear of death. Furthermore, if one believes that the way in which we live our physical lives affects our existence after death, we all benefit.
We can similarly avoid unnecessary fear in children by openly explaining and discussing such concepts, including, and most importantly, the fact that the world is not limited to what we perceive with our physical senses. Children are brought into this world with this inherent knowledge, but most become indoctrinated in cultural and societal “truths.” Children often report communicating with discarnates, usually relatives that they may or may not have known in the physical. Such contact is normal to them and part of their daily lives. It is their guardians who dismiss such things as active imaginations or hallucinations. If we started to embrace such communications as gifts to be treasured, and use them as a basis for conversation, we just might see children who grow up to be more centered and less distressed.
Of course not all children exhibit any inherent non-physical ability, and expecting parents to cultivate something that they themselves believe to be non-existent is unrealistic. Oddly enough, many parents in this group believe in things like good and bad luck, superstitions, or life after death, but often such beliefs are tied to a reward and punishment philosophy based upon interpretation of religious doctrine. This reward and punishment concept, in my opinion, has been responsible for more guilt, depression, and death anxiety than any other factor.
I am not suggesting that parents abandon the traditional ways in which they rear their young, but I am suggesting that they become open minded skeptics. There seems to be nothing inherently wrong with laying the foundation of a connected universe, one filled with peaks and valleys, but always building towards a greater purpose that is often difficult to recognize. We live in a world where seemingly insignificant actions can have deep significance, where compassion and love are the currency of life, and we never cease to exist. A world where we alone are responsible for our actions and judgment is a purely individual endeavor.
Recognition of these facts facilitates living a healthier and more productive life. Our children learn by example, so let us all do a better job of preparing them for what lies ahead.