Expectations are loaded things aren’t they? They govern every human interaction. In some cases they are rules written that dictate the exchange leaders use in communicating. We have tacit expectations in personal relationships that are different from culture to culture and country to country.
I was recently interacting with an acquaintance whose name I don’t even know. Her dog’s name is Chester, but when we are driving and we wave at her she does not reciprocate. I think she has an expectation that our dogs interact, but that’s the extent of our relationship. That’s fine. My impression of her is that she lives alone with Chester, but the rest of her story I have no clue. There are many people in the world who don’t want to reveal themselves to other people, and I understand why. They do it for the same reasons I do. They’ve been hurt before, and they don’t want to be hurt again. It’s understandable. We all have defensives we use against people we don’t know or trust. We aren’t going to let down our guard to just anyone, and we shouldn’t because expectations have taught us that we can get hurt. When can we be vulnerable again? Even the people we live with have hurt us, but we find ways to trust them again.
There are negative and positive expectations we bring with us to all our relationships. All or nothing thinking is not helpful as my therapist reminds me, and forecasting doom for a particular experience with others can cause us to stay home. That’s unhealthy. Do we hide until someone comes to drag us out of our apartment or house? That’s not likely. Self-pity that demands others stroke our ego is pathetic. No one needs a Debbie Downer. I know better than most that getting down is part of reality, and we all face times when we question our suffering. Being strong when you are weak is a must in a very fallen world, and that’s what this blog is all about. Being weak doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. One of the the best expectations you can make for yourself and others is that even though you might be at rock bottom you aren’t going to stay there. Develop by trial and error who you can trust and who you can’t. Life does that for you automatically. You’ll discover these expectations without writing a damn thing down. Hence negative and positive expectations. And here’s a good one. Fool me once shame on you, but fool me twice shame on me. I realize there are people in our lives we cannot avoid, but the frequency to with we see them can be controlled. This lesson is extremely important for those of us who fight mental illness. Alcoholics have to abstain from alcohol. The same can be said for the toxic people in our lives. Don’t fall off the wagon because you chose to be with someone who brings out your worst. There are face-to-face boundaries you can draw if you must be in proximity with that person, so research those as well.
Lastly along the same subject line let me tell you about Celebrate Recovery. CR is a 12-step program that churches usually start and manage. Rick Warren from the Saddleback Church in LA started it years ago, and it’s for anyone who is fighting all addictions that get in the way of our walk with Christ. Google it. There are chapters that meet in all 50 states. It’s an amazing organization that helps thousands everyday.
I just had a thought to pray about expectations. Sometimes I don’t create any expectations. Jesus doesn’t want that for me, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t roll like that. Not creating expectations would be to decide to die. I ain’t doing that. I have clinical depression, but I sure as hell am not going to roll over and die until it’s my time. We’ve come too far to do that. I will start praying that he will reveal to me healthy expectations that are practical for where my mind is at the moment. I know he can exceed those, and if he thinks I can handle that I’m ready.
Let me know what you think.