Stop Labeling Our Projections of Expectations, Desires, and Feelings on Another Person as LOVE
I recently attended a small group meditation. One of the attendees expressed her deep afflictions she is experiencing in her relationship with her daughter. The woman said her daughter is 19. She wants to be a great mom and wants the best for her daughter. She wants her daughter to be "the spiritual girl" so that her daughter doesn't have to go through the hard lessons she learned in life, so she signed up her daughter for Sharon Salzberg's retreat. But her daughter is not connecting with her and she doesn't know what to do.
As I sat there and watched her, I translated her grievances into the following:
"My expectations and desires for my daughter are not being met. She is not good enough, not in the ways I think she should be. I know what is the best for my daughter. She should be doing X, instead she is doing Z. I want her to be a spiritual girl, but she is not. I am deeply disappointed by this and at a loss as to what to do. I am trying really hard to be a great mom, but my relationship with my daughter is not working out. I feel deeply troubled by this."
I noticed my feelings. There were a mix of sympathy and aversion. I saw how distressed she was about the situation. I also felt this aversion in my heart as I listened to her narrative of how things should be, masked under the labels of love and spirituality.
As an outsider, I don’t know the details of her relationship with her daughter and it is not for me to judge. But something I have learned about human relationships is that the first condition of love is acceptance. The second condition of love is understanding how to give love.
Not willing to accept others as the way they are and forcing others to be the way we want is not love. This "thing" we believe is love is causing a lot of suffering for ourselves and others.
Many of us can relate to this woman’s story and probably have experienced in our own lives where our feelings and expectations for another person don't get reciprocated. We feel like we are the victims. We don't understand how the other person can be so cruel as to turn a blind eye to our yearnings and feelings.
There is no law in the universe that states our love and feelings must to be reciprocated.
The reality is that there is no law in the universe that states our love and feelings must to be reciprocated by others. Conversely, all of us have our own free will to make choices that are to be respected.
When we have deep feelings and expectations for someone (family, friends and partners), we automatically project our imaginations, desires, and emotions onto that person. Our minds start to fantasize and imagine how things "should" be.
We get so lost in our own emotions and fantasies that we forget that the "things" we want may not be what the other person wants after all.
The fine line between trying and forcing.
Sometimes when we try, we end up getting what we want. The other person starts to reciprocate our feelings and expectations. Other times when we try, we fail. There is a fine line between "trying" and "forcing" to make things happen. When we persistently try and fail, this is when we have to pick up our dignity and self-respect and learn to let go instead of "forcing" our feelings and expectations onto others. This is also about learning to respect others' will and choices.
Every human being cherishes his/her own feelings and emotions. Our love and feelings are not more valid than other people’s feelings and love, even though we believe our feelings are the most valid thing in the world. We can't force onto others what they don't want and still label it as love. Because that is not love, it is us projecting our selfish desires onto another person. We know that because when we fail to have things the way we want, we feel miserable.
Love is not about projecting our expectations, desires and feelings onto others and expect them to be the way we want. If we do that, we are guaranteed to be disappointed and hurt. But if we can love others even though they are not the way we want, we can experience aliveness of love. We will feel a lot of joy and happiness in our relationships because our hearts are filled with love for others.