Expecting Different Results from People is Counter-productive

Expecting Different Results from People is Counter-productive

The following quote is as overused as a smiley-faced emoji. It is often attributed to many prominent individuals throughout history – including Albert Einstein – though no one knows for sure who actually said it. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

While I can understand one’s frustration given its overuse in popular society, it’s popular for a reason – providing a sort of roadmap on how we can best utilize our limited time here on Earth.

Simply put, the quote above encourages us to remember that there comes a point in everyone’s life when expecting different results from individuals and circumstances is naïve and should be better aligned with reality.

In our romantic, plutonic, familial, and even professional relationships, we all cling to the delusion that if we wait long enough, doing and saying things that are “acceptable” to others, those relationships will eventually change for the better.

Yes, if we’re talking about a relationship filled with mutual compassion, empathy, and honesty, the likelihood of a positive change occurring is a real possibility. But in today’s society, currently dominated by self-serving behaviors and entitlement, I’d say those chances are improbable.

I’m notorious for expecting different results from individuals and situations, especially after an honest, constructive exchange of how and why I might feel a certain way. After such an exchange, I’m often hopeful that such transparency will somehow change future experiences for the better – enriching relationships rather than supporting their superficiality.

Instead, I’m often left with disappointment and an understanding that many of these individuals only possess the capacity to be compassionate, empathetic, and honest when there’s a benefit to themselves, not others. That expecting different results from the same individuals is a waste of all our goodness – goodness which should be expended on those far more deserving.

I wish I could say that I don’t witness this reality regularly in personal and professional situations, but I do. I’m left disheartened by humanity’s inability to see each other through a lens embedded with compassion, empathy, and honesty. For if we did, then maybe we’d care about our family, friends, co-workers, and even society more than we do about ourselves.


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