On Disappointment

"When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles." — Enchiridion 5, by Epictetus
In the past couple of years I’ve been rebuked, insulted and disrespected to my face. I've also been treated at one time or another as if any lessons I've learned during my life up to now have been laughable, or at least eye-roll worthy. 

Recently, when holding a grandchild, one relative glared at me with a look of disgust as if I’d just shit myself.  Others close to me have quickly let me know when I verbally step on some sacred cow and perhaps offend some arbitrarily heightened sensitivity. I've even been informed that my rarely expressed political leanings are anathema.  

Being alone is not all that difficult to endure. What is somewhat difficult to endure is pretending to enjoy the company of people who strive to make me feel alone.
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men.” ― Epictetus, Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses

I've realized for quite some time that only my choices are in my control; everything else, including even the final outcome of my choices, is beyond my control. For some reason or other, though, I've been subconsciously putting unrealistic expectations on those around me. When I say unrealistic, I mean assuming they will think and understand words, concepts and the world in general the way I typically understand those things. I should not expect anyone to think or comprehend like me. And I should not expect anyone to change the way they currently think based on any subtle or overt influence I may surreptitiously try to exert on them. 

My recent feelings of frustrating disappointment with how I have been disrespected, belittled and marginalized is my own fault. Those negative feelings are based on my unrealistic expectations. What others do or think is really none of my concern, and it most certainly is beyond my ability to control or change. 

“Consider that before long you will be nobody and nowhere, nor will any of the things exist which you now see, nor any of those who are now living. For all things are formed by nature to change and be turned and to perish in order that other things in continuous succession may exist. ” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 12

Anyway, regardless of any lingering disappointment I may foolishly decide to indulge in during this chapter in my life, one realization definitely cheers me up. "What's that?" you ask? I'll tell you. I am in my middle 60's and the ephemeral nature of life is daily becoming only too apparent. Many of my friends, relatives and associates have already passed away. And it is absolutely sure that nothing in the short time that remains to me will last terribly long.  Any current or future disappointments will be comfortingly short lived. With that in mind, I think I can handle whatever comes. 💪

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