Written by: Raquel Martinez, MSW
“Expectations are premeditated Resentments”- a slogan found in the big book of AA. A slogan that I have found to be true – unless we are conscious about our expectations. Failed expectations seem to be the root of many experienced negative feelings – such as resentment towards ourselves or others. I like to break it down into two sections: expectations placed on ourselves by ourselves and expectations we place onto others.
Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking “I expect myself to …”? If so, have you ever failed to meet a certain expectation you placed on yourself? How did that feel?
Placing high expectations on ourselves can be perceived as making ourselves accountable to reach our goals. Goal setting is a great skill. Where we get into trouble is when we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and sometimes, due to life happening, we do not meet those expectations. When this happens, we feel as if we have failed. For example, expecting to be married by a certain age. When it does not happen, we begin to question ourselves and our worth. We forget that life is uncontrollable – we forget to be compassionate to ourselves. We forget to be conscious about the expectations we are placing on ourselves – which often, we cannot control. Expectations lead to premeditated resentments. Instead, set realistic goals and be compassionate to yourself if your path changes along the way. Hold yourself accountable yet use kind words of encouragement to yourself for yourself. You deserve it.
Now, lets talk about the arguably most common scenario of expectations turning into premeditated resentments. There are so many examples out there but here are a common few that I have heard: “I expected my friend to have my back”, “I expected for my boss to understand”, “I expect for my family to be supportive”, “I expect for my husband to help me around the house”, etc.
We have these expectations, usually, due to an ideal preconception that others view life through our same lenses. Everyone’s values are different, for they have been formed through an entirely different experience. Can our expectations be based on a rational moral compass? Of course! Can we control the actions of others? Not really. By expecting others to do what we think they should do, we are waiting to be disappointed and be let down. Once we are let down. We are resentful.
While setting expectations on others can have a negative effect, setting clear and healthy boundaries by being true to our values should be practiced. For example, instead of expecting to have a loyal friend when you are in need, we can consciously choose to be close to friends who we see share similar values. We can expect the best of people while being consciously aware that they may not meet our expectations. We can express what we allow to come into our space and what we do not. We have the power to control what we allow to enter our space, but we do not have the power to control what others do.
Less expectations – more boundaries. Less expectations – more realistic goals. Less expectations – more compassion. Conscious expectations.
Written By: Raquel Martinez
MSW, Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker 91884 under the supervision of Nancy Ruiz-Barnes, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker 79552