mental health · writings

letting go of expectations

At the end of 2013 into the first two months of 2014 I found myself in a really dark place and in desperate need of spiritual guidance.

I began my journey on March 11th with a fellowship I had tried to be a part of back when I was 16 but had lost touch with many years ago. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it has reaped more rewards than I ever thought possible. Much of the spiritual work revolves around surrender, admitting you are not in control, and building a loving relationship with a power bigger than you. Much of this wasn’t new to me but really applying myself in a way I didn’t before allowed me to experience these concepts much more deeply.

It gives me great pride to have people say how different I am since beginning this spiritual journey.

It gives me great solace to not feel quite so alone. I am by no means cured (nor will I ever be) but through this fellowship I have been able to look at my behavioral and emotional patterns with a new found clarity.


One of the things we focus on is letting go of expectations.

Powerful stuff however it is not easy at all. Definitely one of  those “easier said than done” life practices

Much of this revolves around two circumstances:

1) the expectations we have in how others may treat us/respond to us/act the way we think they should act (i.e. why aren’t you reacting the way I WOULD react!?)


2) that if we do “part A” it should automatically lead to “part B”. Instead we just do part “A” because its what you are supposed to do (we call this “acting on spiritual principle”) without expecting any particular outcome.

Essentially this all boils down to thinking we have some control in how situations play out and then being shocked or hurt when they don’t because we are actually (SURPRISE!) powerless in controlling the outcome of situations! We all have to find a way to act that is spiritually sound and feels good to us but we do this over and over without expecting anything be it a desirable outcome or even a reward.

It took me awhile to “get this”.

I first began applying it to my medical situation which slowly made more and more sense. I let go of expecting any of my doctors to fix me or that some new medical treatment would THE ONE that could put me into remission. For so long I had let desperation drive the bus with specific expectations of how things should/must go and then was always HEARTBROKEN and crushed when things didn’t play out how I wanted.

I got really tired of being hopeful and then things crumbling to the ground.

This however does not equate to me no longer seeking out treatments that are scientifically  proven to possibly help me or finding competent doctors who help me find more answers and treatment plans. I practice self care by trying to get better. I just find myself having to reframe things when it comes to obsessing about what happens next with my illnesses.

In a few weeks I will be going up to where my pain dr is to receive 2 weeks of FREE Calmare therapy as a guinea pig for my dr who is considering purchasing one (this treatment is used for CRPS a great deal but is not cheap and not covered by insurance) While I am THRILLED to have this happening, I am also practicing being realistic that it may not help (some people have found it made a huge difference and others say it didn’t work at all) and thus letting go of any expectations of how my body will react. Some may say I am being too pessimistic but after 4 years of many many many failed treatments, supplements, machines, and acupuncture with no relief or more pain, I am guarded that anything new will be THE CURE to end all cures!

In doing this I feel calmer and can find the good stuff regardless of the outcome.


I am grateful to get this free treatment, I am grateful that if it doesn’t work I won’t have wasted 7,000$+, and I am grateful that there’s a few other options to explore and that the Calmare is by no means “the end of the road” for me in terms of medical treatments.

I have had to apply this concept to my relationships as well. I have found that I sometimes expect my family and friends to react to things the way I would and am hurt or confused when they don’t. It has allowed me to step back from that hurt and say “Ok so this isn’t how I would act in this particular situation but they aren’t me and thus their own experiences and personality traits  have led them to react THIS way”. I find I have to do this even when people behave in really unkind ways.

For so long growing up I was TERRIFIED of setting boundaries and asking people to stop certain behaviors that were hurtful because the outcome of how they may react terrified me.

This led me to having quite a few abusive friends growing up that physically hurt me or forced me do things that belittled me or made fun of me. As I have gotten older I have tried very hard to move out of that fear and stand up for myself by setting boundaries without operating under the premise that what I am feeling is “wrong” or that I am just being “too sensitive”. My mind can very easily warp things so that I immediately feel doubtful of how I feel  or questioning if I have a right to say how I want to be treated and then I just keep it alllllll in and feel terrible.

This all gets a lot more complicated when someone reacts out of proportion to the situation and immediately lashes out. 

Here I am trying to set limits on certain things be it how someone speaks to me or a behavior that make me uncomfortable because Im practicing self care and then this person upps the ante by being passive aggressive or simply unkind. Obviously in asking for “behavior X” to stop or for this person to be more mindful of how “behavior Y” affects me, I know I must let go of how they may react but it is ALWAYS hard when someone takes things to a different level. It can make me question myself, “Am I asking for too much?” “Did I ask in a way that could be taken badly?” “Am I an asshole?”.  I hate that I still sometimes question myself even when a person is acting incredibly out of line and the request I made was a normal one.

Thankfully this is where your support system comes in along with your relationship with your HP.

Loved ones who have no emotional tie to the situation can asses things and say “Oh wow that person has some anger issues, you are right to distance yourself” or sometimes it may be that they will say “Gen your expectations may be too high” etc etc etc. Again the silver lining in this can be that when someone reacts to you setting boundaries in a respectful way, you get to “see” more of this person. It can truly be a mirror into someone’s soul or at the very least allows you a glimpse into the larger issues they struggle with. This means you still have compassion for this person but understand that their presence in your life isn’t beneficial.

I still slip up and let situations or someone’s reaction hurt me. I still get anxious time to time about what happens next. I find myself asking for my support system to remind me of these spiritual principles. However I find over time this happens less and less and that when certain situations arise, I get over them pretty quickly.

Learning to do the right thing and living my life without letting what “may happen” control me has been a powerful gift.

I struggle a lot with generalized anxiety disorder and being anxious about expectations has really limited me along with driving my loved ones crazy (sorry Sean). It is a relief to continually practice letting go of “what may be” and finding myself less hurt when things unfold along a certain way. I find myself feeling more centered in that I am living my life with spiritual integrity because its what I need to do, NOT because it will make the outcome I want happen.

We often end a meeting with this prayer and I feel like it fits perfectly into all that I have written about in this entry.

” Take my will and my life. Guide me in my recovery. Show me how to live.”


ALL quotes are from Living Clean


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