I overheard this in a meeting recently and it was something which really struck me.
Since working my step four and five, I am constantly on the lookout for any resentments which come up in my daily life. Resentments against people, places or things which cause me emotional unrest need to be swiftly looked at.
I need to do inventory around them to find out exactly what I am resentful at and why. I need to look at what fears are behind this, my own character defects which might be playing a part in my thinking and to look at things from a broader perspective to try and better understand a particular situation, or to practice empathy when another person is involved. Acceptance of course plays a big part here, I must learn to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around me, that I have no control over external things, people and situations and need to be connected to my programme so that I can hand things over to my higher power in times of distress. What I didn’t realise was that in many cases I was I was often creating my own resentments through expectation…
One of the things which certainly I’m guilty of at times is not keeping things in the day. When I let my mind and focus wander, begin to daydream about endless possibilities and what-if’s, I start to set myself unrealistic expectations about what my life could be rather than what it should be. When this happens, when I start to set myself unrealistic expectations I am only hurting myself by paving the way for a series of resentments when these life situations fail to materialise.
Expectations don’t just take the form of unrealistic things you imagine, think or set for yourself. It could be getting caught up in things like a new house, a new job, a relationship or project. When I start to think too far ahead, when I get caught up in my own head and my own imagination I begin to have unrealistic expectations about what could be, rather than what is realistic. When these things fail to materialise, I get upset, my alcoholic thinking and my ‘ism’ takes over and it begins to shake my spiritual foundation.
Having unrealistic expectations around others can also have the same effect. I personally used to place high expectations on the actions of others, I would think that those around me (in my case, my family) could and should be doing much more to support someone we know during a crisis. When they failed to do as much for the situation as I thought they should, I would get angry, upset and my alcoholic thinking would take over. It was only when looking at the situation with a fresh perspective, realising that my family also had their own lives, their own troubles and fears, that they were actually doing as much as they could, that I began to understand the negative impact that false expectations were having on my day-to-day life. I was setting myself up for failure and creating my own future resentments through constant unrealistic expectations.