Managing Expectations

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We’ve all been there. Anniversary night. Some old timer with starry eyes is impressing upon us how life just keeps getting better and better beyond their wildest dreams. We have about five minutes sober. It’s intriguing. It’s enticing. Hey it’s even, dare we say, intoxicating. It’s all good stuff. And here’s how it can also be a setup if you’re not careful.

There’s no doubt that life gets better once you get sober. The common misconception, though, is that it will one day become “easy”. You may have times of smooth sailing. But if one thing is for certain we will all be challenged and continue to be challenged. This is why it is important to manage our expectations and maintain a sense of gratitude.

It is too easy to have the feeling with some sobriety under our belts and things not turning out how we thought they would, when am I going to get mine? Everyone else looks so great and seems to have it so together why do I still feel so wobbly most of the time. Well, first of all, we need to stop thinking so much about ourselves. And second, we need to recognize that we are comparing someone else’s outsides to our insides. That person who got up on anniversary night and seemed like they had the world by the tail could very well be at home crying right now. We certainly hope that they are not. However, that point is meant to illustrate that we never know the entire story.

Another important component to consider is perspective. The addicted mind does not cease being an addictive mind the moment we get sober. Just as our addicted brains easily adjust to a set point of drugs or alcohol and need more, the same can happen for feelings of well being and serenity. We can start feeling good and then like the addicts that we want more. We forget that we were on the brink of disaster somewhat recently and now feel entitled to more pay, prestige, and power at the office. Or we may look to our loved ones with disdain rather than a sense of gratitude. We can forget how they put up with us through our trying times. So it’s important to remember where we came from. Hold ourselves with tenderness but also not get a big head. It is often said that the “ism” in “alcoholism” stands for: Incredibly Short Memory. This can be true of both active and recovering alcoholics.

All this being said, this post is not meant to rain on anyone’s parade. It is only meant to encourage us all to temper expectations of recovery with a little humility, gratitude, perspective and common sense. Remember that expectations are just premeditated resentments. So by maintaining a positive attitude and hoping for the best while preparing ourselves for whatever our higher power throws our way we can all hope for a long and fruitful recovery. And hey if you’re not expecting anything you’ll be so much more pleased with the things you do receive.