Posted by: Judy | August 27, 2013

Great expectations…

I recently read a blog that bemoaned the evils of expectations.

From a certain point of view, I understood the perspective. Unreasonable expectations cause a world of hurt and problems.

To decry all expectations is ridiculous.

When I pay my bill or buy a ticket or other goods or services, I expect something in return.

I expect others to behave in a respectful manner. If they do not, then I expect myself to respect myself enough to do something, be it say something or walk away.

If a student does their homework and attends class and does well on tests they expect to earn an appropriate grade.

A worker expects to be paid as contract.

When I wake up in the morning, I expect the sun to rise in the east. Silly, but still an expectation.

The insanity of being and ACoN was the expectation to meet every demand of the narcissist, even when the demands changed part way through or contradicted.

My saving grace was my truth campaign. I expected the truth from myself. I called myself on the times when I failed to meet that expectation and lied. I required of myself that I understand why I failed to meet my expectation.

I do not expect myself to be perfect. I do expect myself to become better than my former self.

I do not expect others to be perfect. I do expect them to treat me with respect and if they do not I expect myself to walk away.

I do not expect others to be safe. I do expect myself to keep people who are not safe at a distance.

If I want to be healthy, I do not expect it to simply happen. I expect to work hard for it, not only learning to do what is healthy but I actually expect myself to do what is necessary to be healthy.

I expect to meet deadlines. I expect others to meet deadlines, and am disappointed when they do not. I expect no more from others than I expect from myself. I expect to be compassionate and understand. I expect of myself to not be a doormat.

I think one of the problems in this world is that in our efforts to not hurt anyone’s feelings expectations have been thrown out the window. It’s actually very sad, but in my experience, people have an amazing ability to rise to the occasion. The majority of people do meet expectations if those expectations are reasonable and clearly understood.

Yes, throw out unreasonable expectations.

Learn what is reasonable and learn what inspires to reach a little beyond.

Who in their right mind would say “reach for the stars” but don’t have any expectations?

Reach for the stars; you may not reach them, but at least your feet will leave the ground. And you most assuredly will not reach them if you don’t expect yourself to do better than you’ve ever done before.

In my attempt to do the impossible, I may fail spectacularly, but I will not lower my expectations. I may adjust as I learn what is reasonable and what is not.

I used to set goals I knew I could reach. I assured myself the only way I would fail is if I did nothing. This sounds wonderful. Meeting all my goals. I considered this success. I stretched a little but not much.

I am learning there is a power in placing your goal beyond your reach. You will go farther than you ever imagined. Great expectations is not a flaw, not something to be quashed or discouraged.

What more impossible expectation is there for an ACoN than to learn and believe we are of worth?


  1. In AA, we’re given dire warning about expectations. Something like, “Expecrations are resentments waiting to happen.”

    I never cared for this extreme view on expectations. I think it gives too much of a free pass to bad behavior, such as that if a narcissist. I think it’s reasonable to hold people accountable for their behavior. What sort of crazy society would we be if we expected nothing from ourselves or others?

    • Exactly!

  2. I see your point, but I also see the point of others when speaking about expectations. Many of us who grew up in pathological homes learned to expect nothing. I don’t care for the word, quite frankly. “Expectations” in the world of an adult child of psychopaths, means not to expect anything but the basics from others in recovery: respect. I do not ‘expect’ to reach my own high expectations because in doing so, I inevitably fail. My expectations have set me up for failure, externally and internally.

    Adopting a different language has helped me tremendously in this area. MANAGEMENT, BALANCE AND GRAY AREA works for me personally, instead of ‘expectations’. expecting respect from others,is as good as it gets externally, particularly in such a narcissistic society. It is basic enough that if abuse happens, I can let people go immediately, but if something wonderful comes from others, than it is even MORE valuable to me because it WASN’T expected.

    I’m sure I’m not making sense lol! Anyway, the word bothers me and I think it can be a real source of confusion for survivors who grew up in extremely abusive environments where expectation was severely twisted.

    While your explanation works for some, it does not for all.

    Great post.

    • Yes, ACoNs so often have words used against them. The expectations are insanely unreasonable. The important thing for me in this post was realizing how much I’ve changed. One of my mantras was “Expect the worst; pray for the best, and hopefully end up pleasantly surprised.”

  3. Expectations can help people thrive – in business and careers – when a manager lists out expectations and goals with an employee, the employee is usually likely to succeed. Expectation don’t work when executed in an unfair manner – if the employee had no say in it. Or if someone gives a gift expecting one in return. Or just saying “I voted for you, knowing you would vote for me” – said on any reality TV show. Expectations without mutual agreement (in most situations) become a way to abuse or control. Anything that can be positive can be turned to abuse by behaving N.

    Hope it wasn’t too corporate america ;). xxoo

    • Spot on.

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