Have you ever caught yourself saying, “This is not what I signed up for.” This statement comes from a perspective of entitlement. The more we embrace a life of responsibility over a life of rights, the happier we become.
Have you ever heard someone say, this is not what I signed up for? Have you ever heard yourself saying that? When I married you, this isn’t what I signed up for.
This statement is essentially saying, there is me, there is what I want, there is what I need and either you align yourself with me and my wants and my needs or you simply don’t fit into my reality. And the truth is that if there’s a couple, for example, that’s ‑‑ they’re sitting in front of their therapist and one of them says this, this is not what I signed up for, and I suspect that therapists hear this very often, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done because this person is not really engaging in a relationship. They’re engaging in their own reality.
Talk about entitlement. You know people talk about the Millennials being entitled, well, maybe we all feel entitled to some extent. And when we ask ‑‑ when we make the statement that this is not what I signed up for, we are really deeply entrenched in the entitlement mindset, which is terribly unhealthy.
And very often when things are not going our way, this is something that we will say about the circumstances in our life, which is very easy to understand. I’ve thought this many times, and that is what we slip into. And we need to remind ourselves that this only aggravates our situation and makes us more frustrated. It also takes us out of touch with reality.
We need to realize this fundamental point, no one signed up for anything. No one asked you whether you want to be born and put here. Did they? I don’t know about you but no one asked me. Suddenly, I was born. No one asked me if I wanted to be born. And this is a Jewish teaching, which tells us bal korchach ata chai, against your will, you are born. God decides that our soul is going to be put into a body and we are going to be born because God wants and needs us here, not because we chose it. So we didn’t sign up for anything. We can complain and protest our entire life if we want, which really isn’t going to help much.
Against your will were you born. The more we can absorb that we were put here, we didn’t choose to be here, we didn’t sign up to be here, the more we will ask, why was I put here? The more we absorb that we were put here, the more we will stop having expectations. The more we absorb that we were put here, the more we will devote ourselves to our purpose. After we discover why was I put here, what is my purpose here, what is the purpose of God wanting me to be here, and then devote ourselves to that. And the more we stop demanding our rights, life is not about rights, the more we will start committing to our obligations. Because life is about obligations. Had we signed up, we would be able to demand our rights. But when we are put here, we have to seek out our obligations.
The more we realize that we were put here, the more we will be grateful for any blessings that we have in our life and the more we will see our challenges as being a part of our mission.
My great spiritual master, the Lubavitcher Rebbe once asked a Rabbi, Rabbi Zev Segal, who was traveling to another country, he asked him if he can take on a certain mission, which wouldn’t be easy. And Rabbi Segal said yes. And when he came back, he came back to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to report to him and he said, I did what you asked me but I want you to know that it wasn’t easy. And the Lubavitcher Rebbe told him these words, which always remain with me and, actually, Rabbi Segal repeating the story says this is a statement that has changed his life or remains with him for the rest of his life and it remains with me as well. He told him, since when did you make a contract with the Almighty for an easy life?
This sounds like a tough statement, but you know, it’s a profound statement. It’s a true statement. And if we absorb this statement, then we actually make our lives a lot easier. No one was guaranteed anything. And in fact, God designs challenges in all of our lives. No one’s life is an easy life. There isn’t a single person you’ll meet who is going to say, I have an easy life. We have periods which, hopefully, will be easy, but every life is filled with challenges because behind those challenges is where we discover so much of our purpose.
I like to split our life experiences into two categories; there are things that we do and there are things which happen to us. Two categories; things that we do, things which happen to us. The things that we do are those things which we get to choose with our freedom of choice. Of course, we carry responsibility in the choices that we make and our choices should be driven by our obligations, our responsibilities in this world as opposed to our rights, but we get to choose the things that we choose. But the things which happen to us, we do not get to choose. They are put into our life by the divine hand. So things that happen to us are actually being directed to us and they are directing us.
Not what I signed up for is giving away our responsibility. It’s not realizing that this challenge or difficulty is surely not what I signed up for, it’s something that God signed me up to because he needs me to go through this process or whatever it may be. And it’s God relying on us for a certain purpose.
So if you turn to someone in your life and you say, I didn’t sign up for this, remind yourself that if this person is in your life, they are in your life by divine hand, by divine providence. You have responsibilities towards them and perhaps they need you and perhaps your responsibility is to care for them. We need to step out of ourselves and we need to be able to step into another person’s needs.
So next time you catch yourself saying, this is not what I signed up for, well, catch yourself and remind yourself the full ramifications of such a statement.