Keep Boundaries High and Expectations Low

Life can be so disappointing for some people. In particular their disappointment revolves around on what other people “did to to them” or how other people “disappointed” them. Many from the program also fell into the trap of being a victim. Unfortunately, the way we dealt with our hurt or disappointment was to often turn to our drug of choice.
By working our program we learned that it was ok to set boundaries with others. At first, we weren’t really even certain about what our boundaries were. For so long we had just gone along with others. Now, we tapped into the fellowship to help us clarify healthy boundaries. Some of our circle were initially surprised when we spoke up about our needs. Before long people came to accept the boundaries we set for ourselves.
In the past we had often sabotaged ourselves by having unrealistic expectations. When people disappointed us this was a prescription for anger, hurt and resentments. These high expectations also fueled our self righteousness and grandiosity. With these feelings in tow, we invariably turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe our jangled feelings. Today we practice a saner approach. By honestly lowering our expectations, we also see a dramatic increase in our happiness.

Personal Reflection: Are my boundaries and expectations of others appropriate?

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The Road To Resentment Is Paved With Expectation

Many an emotion and feeling has been shared at a meeting. Perhaps more than any other, the feeling most touched upon is resentment. When we first entered the program this fact puzzled us greatly. During our years of using, resentment often got pushed beneath the surface due to our use of drugs, alcohol and food. Now that we had entered sobriety, our resentments seemed to be making up for lost time. We just couldn’t understand how other people could be so arrogant, thoughtless, greedy, insensitive and pushy on a daily basis. Yet, as we attended more meetings, we did encounter people that had achieved a degree of serenity. Why weren’t they raging against other people who had engaged in some transgression against them? Why weren’t they encountering the same kinds of people as us? As we listened to them speak we realized that it really had nothing to do with who they met or what was said or done to them. What was pivotal was their attitude towards others and in particular their level of expectation of behavior. When they had no or little expectation of others, resentments were extremely minimal. Conversely, when they had high expectations which were not fulfilled, resentments boiled over. As we followed their lead, we saw a decline in resentments as well.

Personal Reflection: Do I still have high expectations of others?

I Had To Lower The Bar To Be Happy

All of us of course need to fulfill some very basic needs in order to survive. Food clothing and shelter of course immediately come to mind. Beyond that we begin to get into the area of wants. Within that arena, one of the most common mentioned wants is the desire to be happy. Many an alcoholic, drug or food addict were part of this group of seekers of happiness. The problem was that happiness often eluded us. As a result, we often turned to our drug of choice to fill those feelings of emptiness and sadness. We soon learned that not only did happiness continue to escape us, but a whole new set of problems arose. We often tumbled into depression as our lives deteriorated.
In the rooms we quickly heard a different take on happiness. Someone at a meeting would invariably say to us; “You’re a winner today. You didn’t take a drink or a drug. Everything else is gravy”. As timed passed we began to see that we really did have “a lot of gravy” in our lives. We had a boatload of little reasons to be happy. As we readjusted our expectations, that smile on our faces ever widened.

Personal Reflection: Do I need to lower the bar?