Alissa standing among rose bushes.

Expectations Are Resentments Waiting to Happen

inspiration Jul 01, 2019

Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Brené Brown

Dang it, Brené’s at it again with the wisdom.

I have this habit of holding people to really high standards. Standards that would be hard for anyone to meet. Especially when I’m silently holding them and expecting the other person to just know.

When a person inevitably fails to meet these expectations, I’m disappointed. It’s as simple as this. The outcome did not match my expectation.

Even small, unmet expectations in everyday life make an impact. When you’re always holding onto high expectations, it’s hard not to feel resentful when you feel you’re always being let down.

  1. Maybe you expected your husband to wash the dishes after you cooked dinner, but he didn’t. I’d do the dishes for him. He obviously doesn’t care about me.
  2. Maybe you expected your boss to sing your praises after you did an amazing job on that project, but she didn’t. My boss obviously doesn’t appreciate me.
  3. Maybe you planned this whole big birthday party, only for a few people to show up. My friends don’t care about me. I would’ve been there for them.

Sure enough, the resentments build up. We hold onto these moments as proof and ammunition that see, people don’t care about me as much as I care about them. I always go above and beyond. They don’t!

We become martyrs. I have to do everything around here!

Except when we hold onto these high expectations, we’re only focused on what we wish was happening. We totally ignore what is already working well. Think of the flip side of the scenarios above.

  1. Your husband fixes everything around the house. Plus, he changes your oil and mows the lawn. If you want the dishes done after you cook, ask kindly. “Hey, would you mind helping me out tonight? I’d really appreciate it!” Because maybe, he legitimately doesn’t understand what it would mean to you. Either way, you silently stewing and feeling resentful doesn’t help anyone.
  2. Your boss has given you nothing but positive feedback since you’ve begun working for her. In her mind, stellar work is just to be expected from you at this point. She trusts that you’ll always follow through. Sometimes you’ve gotta give yourself the feedback you’re hoping for from others. If you know you did an awesome job, be proud of that and trust others see it, too.
  3. Your friends all had legitimate commitments they’d made prior to you planning your birthday party. You know, deep down, they make an effort to be a part of your life as much as possible. Free yourself from the toxicity of resentment and remember they do care about you.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. No one appreciates me. I always have to bend over backwards for everyone else. Is that really true, though? If we focus only on what’s lacking, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. We’re creating an environment of negativity and “not enoughness”. We become naggy, difficult to please, unpleasant to be around.

And, look. I’m all for people pulling their own weight. I certainly don’t think one person should have to carry the brunt of the responsibility. There’s nothing worse than feeling taken advantage of. My thoughts are, when we approach life with an attitude of gratitude and praise people for the good things they do, they’re more likely to want to do more of that. If we’re only nagging and complaining about what they’re not doing, it’s likely to be less effective.

Let Go of Your Expectations to Enjoy What’s Happening Now

Like many girls, one of the areas I had the most expectation around was getting engaged.

Matt and I have been dating for 3 1/2 years. We own a house together. I started to seriously wonder when he was going to propose to me.

Vacations happened, birthdays came and went. Still no proposal!

I tried to play it as cool as a cucumber. People began asking all the time when we were getting engaged and I always tried to be nonchalant about it. It’ll happen! I made a point not to put too much pressure on Matt, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t consume me at times.

For example, when we went to Spain this past winter, I thought for sure he’d do it then. I knew my friends were hoping for it, too. I figured if he didn’t do it then, when they heck would he? Many times, we’d be at dinner or seeing beautiful sights and I wasn’t even present because I was wondering when he was going to do it.

He didn’t. It was still an incredible trip. But, letting go of my expectations was hard.

And the thing is, I was secure in our relationship. When I was only looking at the two of us, I had no worries. I knew our connection was special and our day would come. It was only when I compared our relationship timeline with others or got distracted by the well-meaning questions from people that I started to get weighed down by expectation.

Basically, I created my own story that he was “taking too long” when in reality, it was perfect for us.

Eventually, Matt began offering hints that gave me peace of mind. Yes, we are on the same page. Yes, I want to get married, Yes, it’s coming. Just be patient.

Still, I didn’t know when it was going to happen, how it would happen, or what my ring would look like. I’d never given him any hints of what I wanted. I had no control over the outcome.

Well, he proposed last week!

And what made our engagement so special was that it was a complete surprise. All of it. On a random Tuesday night, in the backyard teepee that I love so much, Matt asked me to marry him. The ring is more beautiful than I ever could’ve chosen for myself.

What touched my heart the most was that nothing was coerced or articulated by me. The way he designed my ring; the way he proposed; all were Matt’s unique way of expressing his love and commitment to us.

The funny thing is, I started writing this blog post the day before we got engaged. I had no clue it would be happening. My focus had been on letting go of expectations. I was exhausted from holding on so tightly to these ideas in my head; I just wanted to surrender and trust everything would be okay.

When we hold expectations in our head, we miss the beauty of the current moment. The times I was so caught up in when Matt was going to propose to me, I was missing what was happening presently. I was overlooking the great conversations we could be having and the beautiful sights around me.

When you find yourself reeling with expectations; pause to notice what’s working. Find gratitude in that. Remember when you live in a cloud of expectations, you’re overlooking the blessings you have in the present moment.

With love,