We all have expectations, some more than others. That’s just part of life, but what do your expectations say about you? I’m not talking about expecting your morning tea or coffee to be hot, which inevitably brings you happiness. I’m talking about expectations of others and how that affects your life.
When I reflect on my life I’ve had far too many expectations of others, I still do I suppose. I get less upset and frustrated when those expectations aren’t met, but it still happens.
I feel so frustrated, especially when people are late. I expect them to turn up on time, and when they don’t I start to feel angry. Then I start to think they don’t care or value me. Before you know it I’m getting myself in a bit of a state.
What is an expectation?
a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.
Expecting and Resentment
Firstly we need to understand that by hoping and expecting something will happen or be the case, doesn’t make it so. Expecting the drinker in your life so change, stop drinking doesn’t make it so. When it doesn’t happen, you can start to feel resentful.
I found this on the psychology today website. I think it’s a great example and I know I can relate to it!
“I’m sitting at the party. I planned it so perfectly. I would throw a surprise party for my best friend on my birthday. She’ll be so surprised! She walks in the door. She looks surprised. She greets everyone and thanks them for coming. She seems to be happy, yet … I know her better than anyone. I don’t feel that she’s as excited as I expected her to be. I don’t sense the appreciation that I had expected. I start to feel upset. I start to feel annoyed. What is this other feeling that’s gnawing at me? I start to feel resentment. All the planning, all the work, giving up my birthday celebration. I quietly acknowledge what I’m feeling and remind myself: ‘Unrealistic Expectations are premeditated resentments.‘”
Have you ever:
- Expected the drinker to be honest, then felt deceived when they lied to you?
- Trusted the drinker when they said they’d stop, only to feel deceived when you found them drinking again?
- As a child you expected your parent to be nice to you and supportive, only to discover they weren’t
Accepting life on life’s terms
Something I talk to the group I run a workshop for that are looking for a detox. Accept life on life’s terms, because life isn’t fair. It’s not always just and we can’t control it. Things just don’t always go your way, I know I wanted to get my own way as a child and it didn’t stop there, I felt it into my adult life.
Thankfully I’ve done a lot of work and realise that’s not possible and to stop being a spoilt brat. My expectations of people in my life were high, just like the expectations my Dad had of me.
I felt his disappointment when I wasn’t the person he wanted me to be, and as an adult I had those same expectations of others. Then when they didn’t live up to my expectations and standards, I felt very disappointed in them, resentful too.
You wouldn’t get upset if your bed doesn’t make itself, so why do we get upset when a partner doesn’t make it?
Impact of unrealistic expectations
By now I think you probably understand that the impact of having unrealistic expectations is resentment. You can also feel angry, devalued and can’t understand why others don’t do what you want.
Do you communicate what you want or do you make an assumption ? Others should just know?
I know I don’t like it when people get cross at me if I haven’t done something they expected, or felt disappointed in me. Especially if I feel they didn’t make it clear to me what they wanted. That’s not realistic. Fair enough if I always turn up on time, then all of a sudden I don’t, I could understand.
That would be a realistic expectation because I’ve always been on time. (you’ll get the feeling that being late isn’t OK with me!)
Bottom line is you’ll feel unhappy, I’m assuming you don’t want that. In 12 step programmes they promote letting go, that’s in all ways but especially your expectations of the drinker. Whether you still live with one or not, you’ll probably have those expectations.
Expectations aren’t just of others but of yourself. Do you experience the same disappointment when you don’t live up to your own expectations?
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Change Your Mind Facebook group, where other families of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.