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Monday, August 8, 2011

Expectations, Anger and Resentments

Anger and fear - in fact all my character defects - seem to be inversely proportional to the expectations I have for myself, for others, and for life in general. In this, I do not think I am alone.

My egoic thinking has constant expectations about how circumstances should and will unfold, despite a lifetime of experience to the contrary; and my self-centered, egoic thoughts about what I am convinced is happening, or is about to happen, give rise to the emotional upheavals characteristic of my defects of character. Thus it is the thoughts of the ego that lead to the feelings of restlessness, irritability and discontent that characterize the alcoholic addict in the throes of his or her disease.

It is precisely to the extent that I continue to identify with my ego, or smaller "self," and thereby continue to harbour such expectations, that I suffer. And if such thinking persists over time, fears grow into phobias, desires grow into entitlements, and anger turns into seething resentments. If I am to be free, I must be free of this selfish, self-centered egoic thinking that is the root of all my problems.

But how is such a shift in the focus of my thinking to come about? First, by truly admitting that life is unmanagable by any individual. Second, by truly turning my will and life over to the care of God, and leaving it there. And, third, by accepting that life is unfolding exactly the way in which it is. For, as the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius observed: "To argue with what is is insanity; and yet, the thoughtless can seldom refrain from doing so."

It is precisely at this point that the well-known passage on "acceptance" is invaluable.
"(A)cceptance," we read, "is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."
[Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 417.]
Acceptance of life on life's terms is thus directly proportional to my serenity and peace of mind, just as my expectations are inversely proportional to my egoic, self-centered malaise. Therefore, the old question arises: "Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?" What will I strive for acceptance, or the fulfillment of my expectations?

The answer should be clear to anyone who has long suffered the unchecked turmoil of his or her character defects. Acceptance, brings the freedom, hope and love which is the grace of God; expectations breed the anger and despair which is "the bondage of self."


  1. ...Excellent have an obvious gift of articulation..its a pleasure to read...I hav'nt gotten to the point of absolute 'letting go' hard..and such a leap of faith to relinquish my imaginary control...i liken this surrender of the ego with standing with my back facing the edge of a precipice and falling backwards into oblivion and not being fully confident of being caught..all my life i thought i believed in God up until i heard faith put in terms of TOTAL and ABSOLUTE Trust and Surrender to was then i realized that i did'nt even know really what 'Faith'in God was..its been quite a shocking ongoing revelation..a helpful book did find me recently called "Let Go Now" by Karen's helping..along with your blog...thanks

  2. The old adage is that faith is like watching a man push a wheelbarrow across a high-wire tightrope. It is one thing to have faith that the tightrope artist will succeed, yet it is quite another thing to get in the wheelbarrow.

  3. Awesome,i question my faith alot ,i must be in doubt when I talk to someone about something that happen to me and they tell me I am crazy...then I think I am nuts

  4. Thank you for sharing your amazing insight. I haven't been able to stop reading your posts since I discovered it. You have opened up my mind to what I couldn't see before in a way that has been miraculous ... thank you.