I remember whining to my sponsor when I was new about how some of the people in my life weren’t following my script. “Do you always expect to get your way?” he asked. “Yes, of course" I replied. "Well then you had better prepare yourself for a life full of disappointment because it’s never going to happen.” I was shocked. Of course I expect to get my way. Doesn’t everyone? Isn’t that the way life works?
Many years and thousands of AA meetings later I see that disappointment, resentment and disillusionment are tied directly to my expectations. It is impossible for me not to have expectations -- to completely let go of others -- but my life is infinitely more peaceful if I don’t hold my expectations too tightly. When I demand others follow my script, unhappiness follows. I try to keep my expectations as preferences. Then, if they are met, great. If not, well, that’s OK too.
Perhaps the biggest payoffs in holding expectations loosely is in intimate relationships. Throughout my life. When I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I expected the other person would never do anything to hurt me. When they didn’t love me exactly like I thought they should, I closed down in self-protection. I’ve learned the hard way that pain and suffering results from trying not to love. I aspire to allow everyone in my life to be exactly who they are.
I’m not there yet, but I'm closer than ever.