In a meeting this week I heard a woman say, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Statements like that are what makes going to AA so worthwhile. It’s a life-saving bumper sticker, a platitude with punch. And it’s true.
In early recovery we have to learn to “Lower your expectations” and we learn that that our happiness is inversely proportional to our expectations: More expectations equals more misery, fewer expectations equals more peace of mind.
But here is the kicker for those of us with longer sobriety: There comes a time to actually have some expectations. I heard this stated so well in another meeting. A woman said that for many years any time she was upset with someone she’d say to herself, “Well, I shouldn’t have had any expectations about him or her.” But then—after some recovery and getting some self-esteem-- she realized that it was OK --and in fact a good thing-- to expect people in her life to: Tell the truth; show up on time; keep their commitments; reciprocate and to respect her. Some expectations are signs of our good recovery and self-respect.
This is one of those “Out of the Woods” moments when we have to unlearn what we learned in early recovery.