Expectation. All of us have experienced it. I’m sitting in the coffee shop where I usually write my blog. I’ve been coming here for years and people here know me. When I walk through the door I’m usually greeted with, “Hey Ron!” Often, before I reach the counter, they are getting my cup ready and have my order rang up, large coffee, black, no room for cream. Just the way God created coffee to be enjoyed. But if I walk in and see a new barista behind the counter is it reasonable for me to expect them to know my name and order before I tell them? Absolutely not.
And yet, it’s so easy for me to set unreasonable expectations in so many areas. I expect my daughters to be able to read my mind. After all, they have known me since they were born. I expect to be able to perform a new task perfectly the first time I attempt it. When I speak I expect people to listen because I always know what I’m talking about. I expect a friend or family member to help when I can’t pay the rent this month, even though I honestly forgot to pay them back the past four times they came through. These unreasonable expectations become dangerous, especially in the life of an addict. Addicts like myself often have an unhealthy sense of entitlement.and when expectations aren’t met we move quickly into resentment. What is resentment? A simple definition is feeling that we have been treated unfairly. The problem with me judging what is fair is that I don’t have a clear view of what’s going on in other peoples lives. Heck, if ‘m not walking in long term recovery I don’t even have much of an idea of what’s going on in my life. As resentment takes root in my life it’s accompanied by other things like anger, rage, slander and malice. As these things begin to grow I’m pushed closer and closer to relapse. On page 64 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it says, “Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stems all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not been only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” This statement on resentment is true no matter what the struggle.
So what’s the answer? There’s a lot I could say but I’ll mention just two things. First, back off on judging others. Addicts are quick to say that others are judging us, but we need to be careful that we don’t judge others. And second, communicate. many of my unreasonable expectations come from assuming others know what I’m thinking and what I want. I have damaged many relationships, especially those closest relationships like my children and ex-wife by assuming that they knew what I wanted. Speak clearly and assume nothing.
Expectations are natural. Unreasonable expectations aren’t. If you’d like to talk more about this topic, reach out at email@example.com.