Recovery Messages & News


Q&A on Expectations

With Dr. Raju Hajela


1) What are expectations and how do they compare to things like goals?

Expectations are usually “shoulds” that one places one self or other people.  They are often unfulfilled, hence, can cause a lot of anger, resentment and/or shame.  Goals, on the other hand, are what one can aim for with the clear understanding that the process or the journey is more important than the destination.  It is often useful to have little goals as stepping stones to the big goal one may be aiming for.  Of course, addict thinking, which is all or nothing, can interfere with the process as the expectation that things should be happening faster can get attached to trying to reach a goal, which can be very frustrating.
2) What are the advantages and downsides of expectations?

There are no advantages to expectations.  People often say that expectations are premeditated resentments!  So, having expectations means that one is caught in fantasy about oneself and/or others, especially if circumstances are such that one or another is working hard to meet those expectations.  It is also important that hope and expectations are not confused with each other.  Hope is more like a wish, which can be a motivator to stay in the process when one is working towards a goal, such as abstinence.
3) What feelings are most associated with expectations?

The feelings most often associated with expectations are shame, anger and resentments; although fear can sometimes arise, as one realizes that expectations are not going to be fulfilled and they really are fantasy!
4) Do we need expectations?

No, we do not need expectations.  We need hope and goals to aim for, with the clear intention and action of exploration, dialogue and seeking help to get to know ourselves better and those around us, so that we can live in harmony, with mutual support and interdependence, rather than getting caught up in expectations, people-pleasing and resentments.