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Mentoring Article Series #7

“Unfulfilled Wishes”

This is the 7th of a series of articles on different factors that may potentially cause long term pain in a person’s life. I pay a lot of attention on this factor because it has very long and lasting effects, and extremely difficult to prevent and remove.

“What does it mean by Unfulfilled Wishes?”
Basically unfulfilled wishes mean incidents where things we wanted to do or say that could not be carried out due to some reasons that prevented us from completing it. The unfulfilled wishes situation is usually follow by the strong emotion or feeling of disappointment. It happens more often than we could care to count them, such as you missed the chance to purchase a concert ticket for your favorite band or artist, which could be avoided if you were slightly earlier for the long queue. Or you wanted to date a person but you couldn’t because the person has already agreed to some other outings, and you wished you could be more courageous to ask the person much earlier.

“How many types of Unfulfilled Wishes?”
There are generally four types of unfulfilled wishes:
1. Actions — these are related to things that we actually need to perform it. For example, personally visiting your grandma who is ill; feed your fishes which you have forgotten to do for more than two days; or not leaving your kids in the car alone with the car engine running after car thiefs have stolen the car away in split seconds, etc.
2. Communicated (in various ways) — these are related to things which we wanted to be made known to others. It could be transmitted through verbal communication which is the most common, or via sign language (for the deaf community), some by using hand written messages or typed in electronic messages (such as whatsapp) , etc. For example, a man hopes to write a letter to his ex wife who is not in talking term with him after the divorce. A victim onboard of a plane couldn’t send out the last message through the mobile phone to her loved ones minutes before the plane crashed.
3. Thought — these are wishes that appeared in our mind. Sometimes they are being expressed and in some other times, they are buried deep in our conscious mind. A girl wished that she didn’t say the few mean words that insulted the family of her boyfriend during a heated argument which led to their bitter separation. Or the thought of a worker who wished he hasn’t resigned from the company he was previously employed.
4. Combination – these are wishes that combine one or more of the above. For example, a simple hand shake symbolizes a good communication of courtesy and it is also an action, just as much as a warm and friendly smile to another person. Even writing a letter to someone is a combination of an action and communication.

There are also four important features on unfulfilled wishes which are important for us to know:
1. Sudden change of conditions — this happens when situation suddenly changes in which the intended receiver was no longer available to receive the message, or the person could have died or move to somewhere that could not be found, or can’t meet up due to any reasons, etc. For example, due to sudden change of company’s policy on working hour, the worker now has to work on weekends and having the off day on weekdays. This is making her frustrated because she prefers to rest and meet relatives and friends on weekends.
2. Missed opportunity — this is related to timing, in which the person missed the best timing to say or do something. This has very profound impact especially when subsequent effort to do or say the same thing brings different meanings and may never create the same impact as when it was said or done at the right moment. For example, a wife feels remorseful in her entire life when she missed the opportunity to care for her child while he was still a baby after she decided to give him away to other people as she couldn’t afford to raise the child due to poor family background.
3. Unrewarded Effort — this happens when the expectation or wishes of the person could not be met, not even after some or much effort has been expended. For example, a student has tried very hard to do well in the final exam but ended up disappointed when he gets his results later. Or, two business associates sitting down face to face trying to resolve the conflicts that has constantly disrupt their business relationship but eventually ended up dissolving the business, and both parties were extremely disheartened.
4. Redemption — it has to do with whether a person may or may not do something about an incident to change/improve it in the future. There are two possible situations: one is it’s possible to make redemption later in the future, and the second is redemption in the future is not possible. The impact may varies according to the desire of the person. Please remember that those incident that don’t allow redemption in the future will be extremely painful to be experienced. For example, a married couple wishes to have a child of their own but feeling disappointed after more than 10 years of unsuccessful attempt (possible of redemption in the future), or a young man who is disappointed for not being invited to a friend’s outing (possible of redemption in the future), or a young man feeling dejected after his approach was rejected by the girl he loves and she is marrying another man (almost impossible for redemption in the future), or a young boy feeling disappointed after he misses the bus which he will be eventually late for exam at the school (possible of redemption in the future).

Whichever form it takes is not really too important, but what is more important is the after effect that follows, and what can we do to make our life better from there onwards.

“Why Understanding Unfulfilled Wishes is Important?”
Unfulfilled wishes is another very powerful factor that lead us into a painful life, simply because it carves a huge emotional disappointment and deeply regrettable wounds in our heart. There are many people who live through everyday experiencing the pain of regret on things that they didn’t say or do. A person who is constantly living in regrettable mood and emotions stand a good chance of developing depression and other more severe form of mental disorders.

For example, a mother of a small little infant baby who has just experienced the loss of her child due to carelessness in caring of the baby will regret for life, constantly wishing to reverse the unfortunate event but realized the hope of seeing her baby grow up one day is forever destroyed by her own doing. A poor man who wants to earn some money to buy food for his family has resorted to deliver drugs for quick bucks due to desperation, but ended being caught by police and placed in the jail, full of remorse and regret. An unfaithful husband is in complete distraught after learning that his hope of seeking forgiveness from his wife on his past wrong doing has vanished when his wife suddenly committed suicide.

The deep wound that cause by unfulfilled wishes develop a strong emotion which is call remorse. A person may feel remorseful for a very long time, some even lasted for more than 50 years or even the entire life of a person’s life span. There is also a possible side effect of cognitive distortion which may develop if a person has experienced a deeply regrettable event or incident, which is call Self Blaming. Too much of self blaming tendency may also drive the person into depression or other more serious mental problems.

“What Can You Do To Overcome It?”
Surprisingly, the solution is quite straight forward as below:

1) Complete our wishes — the first rule is to complete our wishes before our life ends. Sounds simple enough, but ridiculously difficult. It is almost impossible (though it’s still possible) for anyone to have no wishes while still living on, or succeeded in completing all his/her wishes. That’s it, this is the most ideal solution.
2) Dedicated effort required — we need to work hard, plan well to try to complete our wishes, no matter how important they may be. That requires diligence, determination, positive mindset, motivation, confidence, etc. We need to achieve our wishes with urgency as things may change very quickly.
3) Tune our mindset appropriately — set our wishes and expectations appropriately to manage our wishes. For example, you can set important wishes which has realistic chance of being completed and make concerted and committed attempt to complete them first as planned. Then those smaller and less important wishes can be fulfilled later.
4) Prepare our mindset appropriately — get the mind ready, make sure it knows that eventually, some wishes will not be achieved. This has to do with how a person deal with disappointment. It’s actually easier said than done, and in the process, we must learn to accept whatever that comes our way.

It is not the unfulfilled wishes that destroy a person’s life. Instead, it is the inability to see the trap they set upon themselves and the refusal to accept the “unacceptable outcomes” that drive people crazy. Also, there is an important element of time factor. Many unfulfilled wishes are badly influenced by time, therefore there is a need for urgency to complete the wishes.

The final point is, human beings are taught to constantly sought a new life direction, a new target, a new meaning in life, a new car, a new house, a new toy, a new partner, etc. It never ends. Some wishes are easier to accomplished while some requires enormous effort, time and resources to achieve. It is when a person invested too much resources, putting too much expectations and too much hope into getting what they desire that drives them toward a painful condition. Wishes and goals are important in life, as a mean to a meaningful life as well as a driving force for human to live with purpose. However, failure to manage it properly will drive a person into a bottomless pit. Eventually, we must learn to find the balance point.

[Photo’s Title: “Unfulfilled Wishes“] Fulfilling all our wishes is everyone’s hope. But it is a long and continuous journey without end that many of us do not know when to stop or say it’s enough, which then leading us to deeply painful experience.

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