Growing up, my mother would tell me, “People can only give what they have.” Now that I’m older, I truly understand the meaning behind her words. Once you don’t have something, there is really no way that you could give it, and that applies to anything you can think of.

For instance, if you only have $3 to your name, and someone asks you to lend them $5, you won’t be able to give that person what they are asking for. The same goes for, patience, and manners, and being tidy – among other things.

An untidy person will never find the problem with a dirty room; they’re already used to living in their own filth, so it’s really not an issue to them.

However, a person who thrives in an organized environment would be uncomfortable in an untidy/dirty space. So where am I going with this? What does this example have to do with my first statement? The answer: it has everything to do with it.

Often times, we expect people to be like us, to tolerate things that we tolerate or to behave in similar ways. Funny thing is, it doesn’t work that way. Others aren’t carbon copies of ourselves, they won’t act the way that we do, and they rarely act the way that we want them to; after they’ve passed a certain age, they’re long gone, and set in their ways – the good the bad and the ugly. By then, any sort of change would be a long, grueling, mostly unwelcome process.

So what do we do? How does a neat freak tolerate and peacefully co-exist with a slob? How does a spendthrift deal with a cheapskate or a workaholic with a couch potato – especially if these people live or work together?

Personally, I’ve found that the answer is to simply lower my expectations. I had to understand that not everybody is willing to do what I would do; not everyone shares my vision, and not everyone has manners … or is nice for that matter. Once I got that, things became easier. I stopped expecting certain things from people, because, I realized that they cannot give what they don’t have. They are unable to live up to the expectations that I had set for them, because those things were just too opposite from their acquired nature.

So I had to re-assess the people I spent my time with. I had to understand, that in certain departments, they will be handicapped, and it was not my place to force things upon them.

Instead, I had to work around the areas where we butt heads. Generally, I noticed that it was almost always, something that they did, or did not do that rubbed me the wrong way. Henceforth, I had to make a decision. I could either get mad each time they failed to meet my expectations, or I would lower my expectations to fit their capabilities. Needless to say, I don’t get mad nearly as often as I used to before.

It was hard gritting my teeth and letting go of certain things. But I’ve learnt, and I’m still learning to work around the differences of my family, schoolmates and colleagues. Needless to say, it has been trying, particularly when things are glaringly obvious to me and the other person is oblivious to the fact – talk about frustrating!





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