I have talked about expectations before, but always in the context of our expectations of others. But today I want to talk about the expectations of other people on us, and the pressure we feel to meet their expectations. Oh yea, I am talking about our need to people please; I am talking about the fear we feel that they may be mad at us; I am talking about the anger and resentment that we feel when we don’t agree with someone else’s expectations of us and we do what they want anyway.
It never ceases to amaze me how many times I have allowed myself to be sucked into someone’s demands and then later had a king size resentment about it. As a child I did what I was told, when I was told, for fear of reprisal and punishment. I also tried to anticipate what was wanted and did things before I was told to do them in a desperate need to get praise so I could feel loved and accepted.
As an adult this mentality morphed into a card carrying people pleaser that sacrificed my own needs just to satisfy someone else’s wants. I did things I did not want to do to be liked and accepted. The problem was that the results were never wanted I wanted. First of all even if I did receive praise it was never enough for me to feel secure. More often than not I had set myself up to be taken advantaged of from people with an attitude of entitlement.
This character defect, is without a doubt, a life long battle I struggle with. I am so much better than I was, but I still catch myself getting caught up into trying to take care of the world. There is a little difference now. I am more selective who I get off track with. Now it is usually with people that I love and care about that would do anything for me as well. In the past I did things for people who never appreciated what I did for them, people that felt entitled, and people who did not reciprocate. So there is some progress.
It took a while in recovery for me to be able to recognize the good guys from the bad guys. Through my fourth step I began to see a pattern of how I related to other people. What were the traps that I stepped into time and time again where I allowed other people to suck me into doing what they wanted me to do? What kind of relationship did I have with these people? What was my attitude toward myself that made me insecure so that I did not have the courage to say no? What was my motive for doing things I did not want to do? Or better yet, what did I fear would happen if I did not do it?
I believe that the purpose of the fourth step is to help us understand why we do the things we do. It is to help us define what we need to do differently so that we can grow and change so that we can be comfortable and at peace in our own skin. Through the years I have used the fourth and tenth steps for almost everything in my life that causes me a problem. These steps help me do the postmortem so that I can understand what went wrong. You have heard me talk about looking at things 360 – that means from all sides, from every angle. It is through these two steps where I analyze my motive; these steps help me see the hidden traps that cause me pain.
There is one thing I know for sure and certain in my life, and that is if I don’t learn from it and change I will repeat it.