How Learning to Manage Expectations Can Impact Sobriety

We put hundreds of expectations on ourselves every day. We’re not conscious of most of them, but we feel their effects: the stress, anxiety, and pressure that weigh down our minds.

The funny thing is, many of these expectations don’t start in our own mind. They are helped along when we are socializing with others throughout our day.

For example, last week I went on a walk with my wife and our two, adorable Maltese puppies. There we are, strolling down the road, and my wife is telling me about a difficult situation she had experienced the day before. I’m listening intently, but I find this fire building up inside my body. She’s explaining this issue that has nothing to do with me, yet I’m the one becoming upset.

I knew I needed to clear my head, so I told my wife I needed a second and took one of the dogs down the road in the opposite direction. I took some deep breaths and asked myself what was going on for me? Why was this touching upon a nerve?

After reflecting, I realized that as she was venting, I had subconsciously decided that I needed to fix this problem. It was my job to fix this.

Not only that, but it was my fault that this had happened in this first place.

Wow. Talk about heavy expectations.

Here I was, berating myself for not being a perfect husband and saving my wife from any inconveniences in her life. I was mad at myself for not being to accomplish the impossible.

This seems like an extreme example of an expectation, but many of us hold these unrealistic standards over our heads every day without knowing it. These lofty goals leave us feeling deflated when we don’t achieve them, leading us to think negatively of ourselves, or take it out on our loved ones.

After walking for a little while and recognizing the expectation, I rejoined my wife and explained what her words had brought up for me. She appreciated that I took the time to discover what was really going on instead of responding adversely to her, and we continued on to what turned into a wonderful stroll.

Expectations are brutal. When you have the ability to recognize when these beliefs come up, you are able to address them and throw them out of your mind.

So next time someone is explaining something going on in their life, don’t absorb the uneasiness into your own body. Listen deeply, offer advice if it’s wanted, and move on with your day. There’s always something going wrong in someone’s life – if we hold on to each person’s problems, there is very little room for the good things in life.

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