Expect: to consider probable or certain, to consider reasonable, due, or necessary, to consider bound in duty or obligated. As a transitive verb, Merriam-Webster’s definition #4. Let’s chat the power of expectation…
That said, if an expectation is unreasonable and delivered in a harsh manner, a child is still going to take responsibility for the marching orders and do everything possible to come through.
However, within the context of what a mood or anxiety disorder sufferer may be dealing with, perhaps there are words in the definition that point to potential trouble. My gut tells me “certain,” “necessary,” “duty,” “obligated.” How ’bout yours?
Oh, wait. Before we get started, I need to get this is. Was watching the 1943 Sherlock Holmes film “The Spider Woman” a few nights ago. Seems old Sherlock had to fake his death to get the angle he wanted on a case. In a wonderful scene, the landlady, Mrs. Hudson, is comforting a forlorn Dr. Watson. And she said to him, “What can’t be cured must be endured.”
My laptop darned near hit the floor. Her caring observation is so in-tune with the concept of acceptance we so often discuss here on Chipur. So I just had to bring it to you. Truly a timeless truth.
Okay, that’s handled, back to biz…
As soul-building as expectation can be, being a mood and anxiety disorder vet and clinician, I can attest to its ability to absolutely destroy souls. I can’t tell you the number of case histories I’ve listened to and read that indict expectation as a major cause of illness, not to mention making it worse.
Expectation in Childhood
Let’s take it back to childhood (even adolescence), where expectation begins its work. Reasonable and lovingly delivered expectation is so important in soul-building. On the other side of the coin, unreasonable and harshly delivered expectation can kick-start soul destruction.
Pause for a moment and think about your very early years. What expectations were thrown your way? Were they reasonable or virtually impossible? Were they presented in a loving manner or cold and harsh?
And most important of all, what was your perception of the message – your take-away?
I can’t think of too many children who don’t want to do all they can to please their parents or primary caregivers. That said, if an expectation is unreasonable and delivered in a harsh manner, a child is still going to take responsibility for the marching orders and do everything possible to come through.
But what if that just isn’t possible?
Seems to me a child can’t or won’t perceive the unreasonable nature of an expectation, so march-on s/he will. However, when ongoing attempts to meet an expectation don’t generate the positive attention the child so desperately needs and wants, I believe the child looks inward for responsibility and blame.
And so begins a struggle with expectation, shame, self-esteem, and more that can continue through adolescence – and adulthood.
Expectation in Adulthood
So here we are in adulthood and so many of us continue to feel the grip of our childhood and adolescence expectation experience.
I wonder if you ask yourself questions, or make self-statements, such as…
- “Why do I screw-up everything I touch?”
- “You’re a sorry excuse for a human being.”
- “Why can’t I be strong enough to overcome my depression?”
- “If I go to that event, everyone will see what a loser I am.”
And so many more.
Those questions and statements had to come from somewhere, don’t you think? Though I absolutely believe in “pre-wired” temperament, I refuse to believe such questions and statements come naturally. No, we’ve been programmed to create and recreate them – day after day after day.
So expectation, a builder and destroyer of souls. In many ways, we have no control over which way it goes for us. But like anything else in our mood and anxiety neck of the woods, we’re still responsible for management.
Which way has it gone for you? Even more significant, if it’s been a soul destroyer experience, what are you doing to gain insight and make the very best of your circumstances?
Sure ain’t easy, but sure is worth it. Yes?
(Hey, don’t forget the sage counsel from Mrs. Hudson.)
No expectation intended, but why not peruse hundreds of Chipur titles? Come on, you’ll feel all the better for it.
This was incredibly insightful to me! Many years of therapy have rarely connected me to the clear concept of expectation as your blog has. Thank you for it.
The movie quote goes very well with a suggestion I read some time ago for suggesting, an easily remembered phrase, for using to deal with those moments you find yourself “caught” in the crosshairs of depression or anxiety.
Wow, Elizabeth – thank you for the kind words. And I appreciate your visit and contribution. No doubt, expectation has been a bug-a-boo for me over the years. And to identify it and monitor/manage it is really important for me.
Glad the movie quote hit home. It obviously does for me, as well.
You take care, and don’t be a stranger…