Expectations Equal Resentments

The Truth About Expectations

An expectation is a premeditated resentment.

I first heard that statement years ago. I researched to see who had first quoted it, and it seems to be associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and various psychological texts.

Regardless of who said it first, it is a painful truth.

Expectations come in many forms, such as expecting to achieve a goal, or expecting life circumstances to unfold in a particular way. Not having those happen the way I want can be frustrating and painful.

The Most Destructive Expectation

But the most devastating and destructive expectation is hoping people will respond or act in a certain way.

I want to be caring and supportive. Even then, others may not be as appreciative as I expect. And they may not be supportive or helpful when I need it.

But many times, I’ve acted inappropriately and done something for someone that they could do for themselves.

Whether or not they seemed to appreciate it or helped me in turn, my caretaking (in a bad way) set up an expectation on their part. Others have come to feel entitled: to expect — demand — that I continue to do for them what they want me to do.

If I go along with their demands, they possess and enslave me to the extent I allow it. And I get resentful that they expect me to do their bidding.

And in turn, if I don’t do everything they want me to do, people have shown resentment toward me by getting snotty and lashing out. Or withdrawing the love, care, and support they once exhibited because they are resentful.

The Truth About Resentments

These behaviors prove several truths:

— I need to make sure it is God telling me to be helpful to others.

— I must examine my motivations. Am I doing this so others will love and accept and value me, and want to have a relationship with me? Or is this my way of trying to get them in my debt so they will do what I want?

— Am I doing what God wants? Or have I chosen to serve a “different master” — a human being that I have placed above Him?

— Resentment breeds resentment. When I get a resentment, my mind churns and I recall all the other times I’ve been mistreated in some way. I can be crushed by that multitude of memories and spiral downward very quickly.

— Resentments destroy peace of mind, serenity, and so many other good things. Including the destruction of positive relationships between me and the people God has put in my life.

— I can’t focus on what God has created me to do because I’m being eaten alive by the relentless, merciless drive to change them and what they did. Or worse, spend my time devising revenge to harm them.

The Truth About Letting Go of Resentments

I can take steps to rid myself of traits that cause me to act in a way that causes resentments. But there are many characteristics that are so ingrained in me that I can’t change them. My part will be a lifelong, concerted effort to examine and modify what I can. And to ask God to heal and change what I can’t.

But there’s one method that always works to rid me of resentments.

The text of “Alcoholics Anonymous” (Fourth edition), page 552 describes the answer.

Basically, if I pray:

God, please give — < insert the name of who/what I resent> — all the good things in life that I want and more, and relieve me of the resentment that I feel toward them.

I am relieved of the resentment if, and only if:

— I pray it every time I feel the resentment.

— I pray it even if I don’t want that person to have good things. (I tell God I don’t mean it – even though He already knows.)

— I pray it until the resentment is gone.

— I pray it if the resentment returns.

I also pray that people who resent me are able to be free of their resentments and the pain I may have caused them.

I promise it works.

My attitude toward that person begins to shift. Oh, they may not be someone I love or trust anymore. And I may choose to have a more superficial relationship, or no relationship at all.

They may or may not ever change.

But the point is:

I am free.

Free of the pain and shame and fear and anger and hatred that I have carried.

Which brings peace and serenity and the ability to nurture healthy relationships.

What helps you let go of resentments?

Expectations Equal Resentments – What helps you let go of resentments? Share on X

Joni Vance is an award-winning author of fiction, essay, and poetry. She loves mystery, history, and how God reveals Himself every day.

May God reveal the mystery of His love in your life story.

10 thoughts on “Expectations Equal Resentments

  1. A very insightful and thought-provoking blog, Joni. I especially like your emphasis on prayer. I also find if I pray for someone I have a difficult relationship with, my attitude changes toward that person, and God also shows me the log in my own eye! Thanks for your words, Joni.

    • Post Author Joni Vance

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Kim. I appreciate your support, and am glad my post was helpful.

  2. Wow! We’ve all been there at some point. This is a wonderful prayer. And good advice to pray it until we get rid of that nasty resentment. It does us no good to stay stuck in that place. “Let go and let God” is another saying to cling to. Thanks for your good words!

  3. Cain and Abel are the first examples of resentment. Where did that lead? The word origin traces back to bitterness and indignation due to a perceived injustice.

    Resentment can be sparked by perceived unfair treatment by another person. It could be an injustice, like not getting a deserved promotion or an insult. Either way, resentment stems from a love of the things of the world and a lack of faith in God and His plan. It is legitimate to recognize unfair treatment and do something about it. But it is not helpful to wallow in feelings of self-righteous anger. The Bible is not concerned with the honor of human pride. An intense emotional response to an otherwise harmless insult may show a lack of spiritual maturity and a love of self (Matthew 5:38-39). (gotquestions.org)

    Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31

    Don’t let anyone take your joy!

    • Post Author Joni Vance

      Thank you for reading and sharing, Jyll. I appreciate your comments and insights. 🙂

  4. Man, you just wrote this blog for me! You didn’t know it when you wrote it, but it addressed many attitudes that I’m struggling with right now. I’m going to print it off because I may need to read it more than once. Thank you so much for what you do. God is using you! Don’t ever stop:)

    • Post Author Joni Vance

      Thank you for reading and sharing, Jane. I’m glad the post was helpful. I appreciate the encouragement.

  5. Great read!

    • Post Author Joni Vance

      Thank you, Ed! I appreciate you reading and commenting on my post. 🙂

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