A builder and destroyer of souls

myexpect: consider probable or certain, consider reasonable, due or necessary, consider obligated or obligated. So much potential for soul building in that definition, and so much ammunition for destruction. Let’s talk about the power of expectation.

…if an expectation is unreasonable or expressed harshly, the child will still be responsible for the marching orders and will do everything possible to comply with it.

At first glance, “wait” seems like a benign, even positive and nurturing word and concept.

However, within the context of what happens in the mind of someone facing emotional and mental challenges, there are words in the definition that suggest potential problems.

My instinct says “true”, “necessary”, “duty”, “obligated”. How about yours?


In the 1943 Sherlock Holmes film, “Spider Woman,” Sherlock had to fake his death to get the angle he needed on a case. In one wonderful scene, the landlady, Mrs. Hudson, comforts the grieving Dr. Watson, telling him, “What cannot be cured must be endured.”

Your careful observation is consistent with the concept of acceptance that we so often discuss here. And if you are a victim of past expectations, you will find it easier to manage life.

soul destroying

As uplifting as the expectation may be, as a veterinarian and former mood, anxiety, and substance disorder clinician, I can attest to its ability to completely destroy souls.

I can’t tell you the number of case histories I’ve heard and read that point to expectations as a major cause of illness, not to mention exacerbation.

Expectation in childhood

Let’s go back to childhood and adolescence where expectation begins its work. Reasonable expectations delivered with love are important for soul building.

On the other side of the coin, unreasonable and harshly expressed expectations can trigger the destruction of the soul.

“I’m sorry it’s taking so long. This looks good?

Pause for a moment and think about your early years. What expectations were presented to you? Were they reasonable or practically impossible? Were they presented in a loving way or cold and harsh?

And most important of all, what was your perception of the message? What was your conclusion?

I can’t think of many kids who don’t want to go out of their way to please their parents or primary caregivers.

That said, if an expectation is unreasonable or expressed harshly, the child will still be responsible for the marching orders and will do everything possible to comply with it.

But what if that’s not possible?

Forced to look inside

It seems to me that a child cannot or will not perceive the unreasonable nature of an expectation, so he will go ahead and do it.

However, when continued attempts to meet an expectation do not generate the positive attention that the child so desperately needs and desires, I believe the child is forced to look inward for responsibility and blame.

And so begins a struggle with expectations, shame, self-esteem, and more that can continue into adulthood.

Expectation in adulthood

So here we are in adulthood and many of us still feel in control of our experience of childhood and adolescent expectations.

I wonder if you ask yourself questions or make statements like…

  • “Why do I ruin everything I touch?”
  • “You’re a sorry excuse for a human being.”
  • “Why can’t I be strong enough to overcome my depression?”
  • “If I go to that event, everyone will see what a loser I am.”

And many more.

Those questions and statements had to come from somewhere, don’t you think? While I absolutely believe in pre-wired temperament, I don’t think those questions and statements come naturally.

No, we have been programmed to create and recreate them, day after day.

It’s worth it

So expectation, builder and destroyer of souls. In many ways, we have no control over the direction we take.

But like anything in our emotional and mental environment, we are still responsible for acceptance and management.

What path has it been for you? Even more significant, if it has been a soul-destroying experience, what are you doing to gain knowledge and make the best of your circumstances?

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

PS: If you are a parent or caregiver, think carefully about your expectations and how you express them.

If you want to read more information about Chipur and inspirational articles, the titles are at your fingertips.

This is a new version of a previous article by Chipur.

Initial definition of “wait”: Merriam Webster

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