Great Expectations


“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” ~ Donald Miller

When we come into this world, we are given the exact amount of time that is necessary to complete our spiritual work.  We are also given everything we need in each moment; often it isn’t what we want, but we do have the necessary resources to accomplish the tasks and responsibilities for which each of us came here. In fact, Kabbalah tells us that our transformation CAN be completed in one lifetime.  It all comes down to choice.

How often do you find yourself blaming your parents for how you turned out, or the situation you are in?  Ask yourself this in earnest.  Do you validate certain behavior because that’s what your parents did while you were growing up?  Consider these questions and then ask yourself this: is it really serving you now? 

Have you ever noticed that when a person succeeds, but comes from a difficult beginning, their attitude tends to be “I got here despite my upbringing or my parents.”  It’s quite an inspiring mindset.  On the flip side, if a person doesn’t succeed or isn’t happy where they find themselves, their tendency is to blame it on their upbringing – “I’m in this situation because of YOU.”  As if everything was their parents’ fault.  There is a kind of victim-mindset in this kind of logic (if you can even call it that.)

I am here to tell you that you have the choice to see it one way or the other.  But ultimately, everything that has happened to you, and will happen to you is for your own good, and to help you reach your ultimate potential. It’s vital to bear this in mind. Think of it this way, who would have ever thought the jagged, rocky, dark and dirty oyster could ever house the likes of the smooth, refined and beautiful pearl? Finding the pearl is not an accident… You need to look for the pearl. Sometimes the most beautiful of things are disguised and hidden in the dingiest and darkest of places.

Your parents are in your life for a reason.  Kabbalists believe in reincarnation.  The fundamental reason behind which is to ensure you reach both your ultimate potential and the highest level to which your soul aspires. Yes, I did say that you are given all the time you need in this lifetime to get to that place of elevation, but more often than not we don’t reach our ultimate self; and so we return until we do.

Kabbalist Rav Berg, as well as kabbalists before him, have expressed this idea that every soul returning to this world must find a place in which conditions will be similar to those they left behind in their prior lifetime.  This enables us to hopefully meet our potential and reach our ultimate self.  In one of his books “Wheels of the Soul” Rav Berg writes that “parents and children are brought together as if they had selected one another from a cosmic catalog.  It is for this very reason that reincarnation is not a question of faith or doctrine, but of logic and reason.”

Blame, therefore, is what robs us of the freedom of choice.

Parents are not just here to teach us what to become, but also what to avoid.   Sometimes a parent demonstrates certain behaviors that seem undesirable to us.  If this is the case, instead of blaming them, we can use it as a means to respond differently in similar situations.  We can see that sometimes our parents teach us what not to be, and we can learn from their mistakes and shortcomings. We can strive to surpass their limitations. As far as the Universe goes, there is no such thing as an accident – everything is as it is meant to be.  And when you KNOW better, you DO better. But in order to KNOW, you need to be able to acknowledge that lesson, that thought, and then follow through with action.

What can we really learn from the parental relationships in our lives? Especially where we have placed such great expectations on who they “should” have been?

Some of us may place our father, or mother, or even both on a pedestal. This is not something that they ever asked for; children simply need role models, and a consistent one at that… it’s a do-as-I-do attitude, not a do-as-I-say. But when they fall from their pedestal, which they inevitably will, because no one is meant to be perfect or better than anyone else; each of us is gifted in different areas, and we need not dim our own light in order to make someone else’s shine brighter. But we blame our parents for our “failures,” and we resent them for their own; oftentimes perpetuating their behavior in our own lives, justifying it by saying, “well that’s what my dad did, and it’s how I was brought up.”

There is great danger when putting someone up on a pedestal, because the person placed up there will inevitably fall off. Pedestals are not built to last, and once we remove them, the person who once stood atop it feels devalued, uncomfortable, and displaced; not knowing where it is that they stand, but they’re no longer 10 feet above us.

A mantra I have lived by for a while is “if you don’t appoint, you won’t be disappointed.”

What is it that we truly value about our parents?  We know that we are ever-evolving, we are aware of the fact that we are constantly changing, as are the relationships we have.  We grow up.  We move on. We become parents ourselves.  And for the most part it’s once we have that perspective that we tend to have a better understanding of how and why our parents did what they did. THEY WERE DOING THE BEST THEY COULD AT THAT TIME. As pitiful as we have felt that to be at times, it WAS their best.

Just remember that they were kids once too – how were THEY parented and brought up? Do you know? Do you feel as empathetic toward them and for their sense of lack as you do your own?

The most important thing to know and understand is that everything, even the most awful and saddening things that somebody else does to us, comes directly from the Creator in order for us to grow, learn and transform ourselves. We need to let go of expectations. When we do, we can appreciate the present no matter what that relationship looks like.  Especially when it’s not picture perfect, as that is when we can learn the most. Always bear in mind that you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.


  1. Do you place blame on your parents for the choices they made and the choices you make today?
  2. Do you validate certain behavior because that’s what your parents did while you were growing up?
  3. Consider these questions and then ask yourself this: is this serving you now?

During the next week I ask that you keep an open mind. Instead of judging, blaming, or feeling sorry for your parents – for what they became or didn’t measure up to, remember that your parents came into your life for a reason. The reason is to teach. Our parents are our greatest teachers. We just need to redefine what a teacher is.

When looking up the definition of a teacher, this is what comes up on Wikipedia:



A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils (children) and students (adults). The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place.

When we redefine the definition, we come to understand that parents need not teach us what we deem as perfect or bring us to complete happiness, but sometimes they simply teach us what not to be. The choice is ultimately ours to make. Make your choice count.

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