Watching my Expectations

Early in recovery, I learned about the hidden danger of expectations. It’s not that I don’t expect good things to happen to me. Rather, it’s that when I place unrealistic expectations on myself, others, and the world around me, I’m destined to feel crappy very soon.

I’ve started to notice this again lately. Currently, I’m struggling with tobacco addiction. I often want to quit right away – just go cold-turkey and be free of cigarettes. This gets me in trouble quickly. Instead of making a plan about how to quit, going to a support group, or something else that would help, I place unrealistic expectations on myself. Sure enough, I soon fall into negative thinking patters and depression.

This doesn’t just happen with smoking – it happens in many areas of my life; everything from my relationships to my work life.

Sometimes, like lately, I get clarity about it. Then I slow down, I take deep breathes, I become more mindful. Eventually, I jump back into my control freak mode and try to force my will upon everything. It’s a frustrating back-and-forth that, if not identified, can lead me to despair.

I watch my expectations – those things I demand from my God, the way I demand things thinking that God is like Santa Claus.

Those demands that I make

But what if there’s an alternative to this? Well, there is. In recovery, we talk about Step 3 – turning our will and lives over to a Higher Power. Granted, this is easier said than done. But it is possible.

The past few days, I’ve been trying to turn it over. I didn’t understand quite what this meant in early recovery, until I began talking about with others who had been doing it longer than me. For me, turning it over is an internal thing – it feels like letting go of my need for control and trusting that some Spirit of the Universe will arrange things as He/She/It sees fit.

This philosophy of life is not exclusive to recovering people. Over the years, I’ve read many spiritual and self-help books that talk about it. Plus, it’s good psychology and something many therapists probably know.

So, back to expectations. I sit here in my home office and see a cloudy sky outside and feel chilly air blowing throw the window. My body feels tense because, well, it usually always does. I take a few deep breaths, I tap away at the keyboard, and I try to let go of my over-thinking mind.

I watch my expectations – those things I demand from my God, the way I demand things thinking that God is like Santa Claus. But who’s in charge, really? Certainly not me.

It’s a little past 10 a.m. where I’m at. Right now, I surrender my will. Let’s see how I’m feeling later today, when I have to make the decision again.

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