Coaching Center - Expectations, Anger, and Bitterness
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Expectations, Anger, and Bitterness

Throughout life, we all develop expectations. An expectation is something we look forward to happening. Expectations usually develop when we compare ourselves with others ("They get to so why can't I") or from promises people make or imply. Some expectations result from true needs in our lives, like being loved, accepted, and feeling safe. When those expectations are not met in the ways we want them to be met by others or God, the emotional reaction is often anger.

The Bible says to "be angry, and yet do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). Anger becomes a problem when we deal with it in a wrong way. A way to guard against acting in anger is to surrender our expectations to God. In surrendering, I choose to let God meet my needs in the ways He sees best, not in the ways in which I want to see things done. I decide to trust Him and look to Him as the source of my peace, joy, provision and security, instead of looking to circumstances or to other people.

However, what if I don't recognize an expectation I have and I get angry? What if the anger remains in my heart? When I do not deal with my anger it turns into bitterness. A bitter person is one who is unhappy, resentful, harsh, critical, and mad at the world. If I do not deal with my bitterness it will lead to a sense of hopelessness or despair. The roots of bitterness will go down deeper and deeper into resentment, revenge, not being grateful and having no hope (Hebrews 12:15).

To deal with anger and bitterness, I can choose to forgive others for what has happened and release them from my expectations. God will deal with them, so I defer that right to Him. I become unable to be satisfied and focus totally on the unmet expectation, and, the one who failed to meet it. Also, I become unable to see how God is meeting my needs. What if the anger is at God? If so, I must make a choice to trust in the truth that God is loving and compassionate, that He is working all circumstances in my life for the good (Romans 8:28), and that He will provide my every need (Philippians 4:19) in His way and in His time.

Assignment

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of any event in your past that causes you continual hurt. List each person who has hurt you.
  2. Ask God to make you willing to forgive these people, and even yourself. Trust Him to work this event out for your good (Romans 8:28).
  3. Read Matthew 18:21-35, Romans 12:17-21, and Matthew 6:25-7:5.
  4. By faith, depending on the Holy Spirit, choose to forgive each person. Do this as an act of your will, apart from what your emotions or your thinking are telling you. Speak this choice to God. Trust Him to bring healing from anger and hurt in His time.
  5. Work through Expectations Exercise, surrendering each of your expectations and rights (what you think you deserve) to God.

Expectations Exercise

List at least three "expectations" you have of yourself or others which, when not met, make you feel angry (irritated, frustrated, outraged, mad, etc.). Circle the + if you think these expectations are being met, and circle the - if you think they are not being met.

1. _____________________________________________ + -
2. _____________________________________________ + -
3. _____________________________________________ + -

Everyone has needs. When our needs are not met, we often feel hurt or angry. Listed below are a number of needs that we have. Circle the + if you think the need is being met and circle the - if you think the need is not being met. Circle the letter that corresponds with the person(s) you think should meet this need: (Y) Yourself, (F) Friend, (P) Parent, (O) Others.

1. To be loved Y F P O + -
2. To be understood Y F P O + -
3. To be wanted Y F P O + -
4. To have importance Y F P O + -
5. To be approved of Y F P O + -
6. To be safe Y F P O + -
7. To be satisfied Y F P O + -

A "right" is something we think we deserve or a way we think others should treat us. Which of the following "rights" do you think of as being your personal "right?" Circle the - if the right is being denied and list by whom the right is being denied.

By Whom
1. To be treated fairly - ________________________
2. To make my own decisions - ________________________
3. To be honored - ________________________
4. To be obeyed - ________________________
5. To have my own money - ________________________
6. To be protected - ________________________
7. To be appreciated - ________________________
8. To be heard - ________________________
9. To receive affection - ________________________
10. To be respected - ________________________
  1. Spend time surrendering each unmet expectation to the Lord, trusting Him to work everything together for your good (Romans 8:28-29).

  2. Admit any hurt or anger you have towards those who are not meeting your needs. Choose to forgive them and trust God to meet your deepest needs (Colossians 3:12-14; Philippians 4:19).

  3. Surrender any rights that you think are being denied by others and give up control of these areas to God. Trust Him to use these areas to make you more like Christ (Philippians 2:5-8).

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