Topic for the week: Expectations vs. acceptance
Something I’ve been struggling with lately (probably always) is my level of expectations of people and situations. I have been trying to lay aside my expectations and pray for acceptance of things as they are today, but I have found myself continuing to get angry at my family members when things are not done as I would hope they would be.
I have heard that expectations are premeditated resentments, and I know that my goal of serenity can’t happen if I don’t find a way to let them go.
From the AA Big Book, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.” (pg. 417)
As I went through this cycle repeatedly where I would pray for acceptance, then be around my family and get angry, over and over, I was feeling so frustrated. How could I not expect anything from anyone? It seemed to go against my nature. Why should those people get away without having to do anything they should do? Why do I keep feeling like I know what the best thing is, when I know in my mind that God is really the only one who does?
I think all humans expect to be treated with respect and be heard. I run into trouble when my expectations become demands. People let me down because they don’t live up to what I’m expecting, so I am trying to stop expecting them to change. I understand now that I get angry because of what I am doing, not because of them. Just knowing that I am expecting too much is half the battle. At least I am getting better at realizing what I’m doing and when. I can keep asking my Higher Power to help me because I can’t do it alone.
What I can do is set healthy relationship boundaries for myself, and lay out expectations for what I need in a relationship. Not telling them who or what they need to be, but expressing who and what I want to be. When those lines are crossed, I can disengage without feeling guilty because those are my boundaries. This is different from having expectations and trying to control their behavior, which can only lead to disappointment.
I also need to work on not expecting too much from myself. One of the shares from you wonderful women a couple months ago really stuck with me so I saved it, “Either I had to be the straight ‘A’ student, high achiever, or I would be a drunk or act out in some way because I could not keep up with my impossibly high standards.” Expecting too much from others or from myself will only get me into trouble.
How have you struggled with or made progress on letting go of expectations?
Thank you for letting me lead the meeting, I look forward to hearing about your experiences.