Home » Blog » Expectation Versus Hope

Expectation Versus Hope

Mar 29, 2021

Bart Ross, Recovery Services Manager

For most of my life before recovery, I had very high expectations of other people, events, and myself.

These often led to big disappointments, and I had extreme trouble accepting the outcomes. These so-called letdowns led to poor relationships with others, and they robbed me of many experiences.

Sometimes my expectations were based on past experiences, and sometimes I wanted what I wanted based on nothing but playing God. I was self-will run riot. Thoughts ran through my head like: You should do this. It needs to be this way. How could you? I deserve better, etc.”

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

I remember the first time I read this line in the Big Book on Page 62: “First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work.”

This sentence hit me hard. I hadn’t believed in God yet, but I saw the point that it was making.

When we began to practice the 12-Steps as a way of life, we developed a relationship with a God of our understanding. This was when I understood the detriment of having expectations. An expectation is a close-minded idea of what should be and taking God out of the scenario completely.

Today I understand the meaning of the Third and Seventh Steps.

Expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments. Our mind is locked into an outcome we want but may not need. When we have an expectation, are we trusting in God, or is this self-will? When we make our Third Step decision, a big part of that decision is that our life is no longer our business. In the Seventh Step, we are ready to offer our Creator everything. We are responsible for our efforts and not the outcomes.

 “Build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.” (Big Book, Page 63)

Hope is my favorite word. It’s the only spiritual principle that you can give to someone else. Hope is very different than an expectation. I can remember the first time I was aware of receiving hope from someone. It was when a man explained to me that I could recover from alcoholism. I didn’t have any expectation of healing, but I had hope that he was right. I knew that I had nothing to lose and all to gain if he was right. This man gave me hope by talking about how he had suffered from alcoholism and the life of freedom he had.

I can see now that I always had hope in the 12-Step program.

I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but if I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t have stayed. What I know today is that it takes what it takes. Had I had an expectation, I would have given up.

Hope is open. It’s not limited to a definite result. My ability to give hope is a direct result of my gratitude for the man who gave me hope. The greatest gift we get to show others begins with conveying hope to those who are feeling hopeless. I continue to be blessed to carry a message of hope in my recovery life, in my work life at Hanley, where our message of hope is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration and inspire connection for a life of recovery.

Every day I ask my Higher Power to show me how I can give hope to all those who cross my path in need.

It can be anywhere for any reason to anyone. Hope also continues in my own life. It’s a good feeling to have hope. Hope comes from trusting my Higher Power and counting all the outcomes in my life without any expectations.

I’m also blessed to have family, friends, and a fellowship that reminds me to have faith when I don’t. They give me hope. With hope, we can grow, we can learn, and be open to new experiences repeatedly. My prayers today are filled with hope. I try never to put expectations on my Higher Power.

“We ask especially for freedom from self-will and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that, and it doesn’t work. You can easily see why.” (Big Book, Page 87)

When something we’re hoping for isn’t turning out the way we would like it to, we can continue to have hope. There’s nothing wrong with holding onto hope. What we need to avoid are expectations. Keep the faith and remember that God will always give us what we need, which may not always be what we want.

“Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all our activities. ‘How can I best serve Thee- Thy will (not mine) be done.’ These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our willpower along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.” (Big Book, Page 85)

Remember that Sober (soba) soldiers are hope-givers. As long as we continue to have hope, we will pass hope on to others. Always feel free to exchange hope with me at


Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

You May Also Like…

Chronic Liver Disease

Chronic Liver Disease

Years of drinking excessively could mean harming your liver with every sip. Chronic liver damage is a serious...