The topic of expectations has come up quite a lot in meetings of late. What are expectations and how are they a problem? As a fellow member shared, “Expectation are resentments under construction”. When I expect something to happen and it doesn’t, then I open myself to anger in this moment and resentment in my future. Expectations carry with them a sense of the expected: this thing is going to happen. I have this expectation because of past experience. I did this in the past and that was the result. I am doing the same thing now so the result will be the same. There’s a sense of entitlement to what should happen. I am living in the future.
When I live with expectation, I open myself up to possible anger and resentment because I believe that this will definitely occur in the same way that day follows night. If it doesn’t, or if it does happen, but not in the way I was ‘expecting’ it to happen, then I feel let down, confused, and perhaps, angry. Expectation is inflexible and unvarying. It’s the ‘my way or the highway’ position. I need to remember when dealing with people that this world is not a scientific laboratory. Yes, when I put oxygen and hydrogen in certain amounts and under certain conditions I can expect to get water. When I am dealing with persons, places or things, the precision of a lab experiment is lost. I cannot account for all of the conditions and variables.
Let’s look at a concrete example. I say to my partner, “I love you.” If I am in expectation mode, I already have a response in mind. I expect my partner to say something like, “I love you too.” I have said I love you to this person before, or I have said this to other people and that is the response I received. Anything less than that response could be potentially shattering to the relationship: I question myself, I question my feelings, I wonder about who my partner is loving if not me! Suddenly, instead of an intimate moment, I am questioning my whole relationship with this person. How quickly I can change my perspective when I live with expectation.
Hope is the alternative to expectation. If I have hope, there is a desire for an outcome, but there is no guarantee that it will happen as I would like it. Unlike expectation, hope allows for variance of the outcome. It doesn’t have to be perfect for me to find contentment. Hope is flexible and allows the unpredictable to happen. When I have a hope realized, I am grateful. I wasn’t anticipating that outcome to occur, so anything that comes from that is pure bonus. In hope, I am living in the moment not in the future. I am happy.
Looking at our example above. If I say, “I love you,” in hope, then any response is acceptable, including no response. I know there is no guarantee that the other person will give me an ‘I love you too’ back. If I get that, well, wow! The response may be a deep passionate kiss. Even if it’s an, “I’m not there yet,” I can accept that too. When I live in hope, everything is a gift.
There is a fine line between hope and expectation. Can I have both at the same time? Not really, I am either awaiting a determined response or I am not. I must set aside expectation. Live in the moment without preconceived ideas about what should happen and simply allow it to unfold. There are no guarantees in life so why live as though there are? I know that if my hope isn’t realized that this hope will not die, but continue on, because it is not fixed to a schedule nor to an outcome. Approach life with the wide-eyed innocence of a child and you will be struck by its wonder and beauty.
♥ ♥ ♥
Please like and share this blog, not to stroke my ego, but for those who need the courage, strength and hope to start and continue their journey down Recovery River. I would appreciate it if you would sign up and follow as well. My intention is to post Mondays and Thursdays. Please comment and offer suggestions. I’d love to hear from you.