Question: How can I rid myself of expectations of others and the resulting disappointments? Am I really just disappointed with myself for allowing the attachment or is it lack of self-respect which merely manifests itself in the form of impatience. I’m slow to learn and find it even harder to remove my hostility.

Swami Satchidananda: You don’t need to put yourself down like that. We all make mistakes, no doubt. It’s only by mistakes that we learn. Only by making appointments and having disappointments do we raise above them. If you expect your happiness to come from anything or anyone, you will always be disappointed. Happiness is like your shadow. When your back is to the sun, no matter how long and how far you walk, your shadow is always in front of you but you can never catch it. It is always beyond your reach. If you turn around and face the sun, then your shadow is always behind you and as you walk it chases you. Happiness is already within you as your own true nature. When you truly understand this, you will stop having expectations and the resulting disappointments.

Gradually, you will learn to make the right appointments—the ones that will never bring disappointments. So never lose heart and don’t worry about past things. And if you are really interested in not having any disappointments, make your appointments without any selfishness behind them. It’s always a selfish appointment that brings disappointments. I like to say that selfishness is a fishy business because with selfishness, you are always trying to catch something on the fishing line. You think that what you catch will bring you that happiness but again, happiness cannot be caught because it is already within you. Selflessness has no fishing line. We simply act for the joy of doing and of being useful. If your entire life is dedicated for the benefit of others and free from selfishness you will never be disappointed. Accept any opportunity that comes your way to be of service. You don’t need to force it, simply be ready. That’s what we should learn in our life.

It seems you are feeling that you are not fit for anything and that you are never going to find peace. As a baby, you didn’t walk right away when you came out of the womb. How many hundreds of times did you fall down before you even stood up? Have courage, perseverance, and never lose hope. Don’t even allow negative thoughts to come into your mind like, Oh, I’m a sinner I’m not fit for anything. That is the worst kind of thinking. After all what is a sin? When you don’t know something, it’s a mistake, that’s all. Sin is just a mistake. If you know it’s going to harm you or someone else, you won’t do it. But, even if you happen to make the mistake, it doesn’t matter because you will have to face the result. And that’s how you learn. You realize “Oh, I did that, and now I’m facing this, so I should not do it in future.” Maybe that light of understanding remains for only a few days and then you make the same mistake again. It doesn’t matter. You may need to learn the same lesson again and again. It may take 10 times or 100 times. That’s what the world is for—to give you as many experiences as you need to finally learn the lessons.