Do you have a negative pattern in your life—something painful that keeps happening to you?
“I am bad at keeping friends.”
“Bosses never like me. They keep promoting others, but they don’t promote me, even though I’m more experienced.”
“The women I date don’t listen to me.”
“Men are all the same. I keep getting hurt.”
People like to say, “You are what you eat.” Well, you are what you expect too!
If you recognize you have a negative pattern in your life, it could be what Elijah House calls a “bitter-root expectancy.” Basically, you are expecting the people around you to treat you in a negative way. And they are.
When we have a negative expectation in place, we tempt others to hurt us the same way we were hurt in the past. It’s like we put a spiritual “pull” on others to fulfill our negative belief about them.
Very often the people around us will subconsciously feel that expectation and act upon it, even if they are unaware they are doing so.
Where Do Negative Expectations Come From?
Negative expectations are the aftermath of pain we experienced in childhood. When that pain goes unhealed, we develop “buttons” that cause us to react whenever somebody comes along and pushes them. In our culture we say things like, “That person really knows how to push my buttons!” Yes, well—there must be a reason. Anytime there is a negative expectation, there has to be a related place of unhealed wounding.
If your dad was exacting and fault-finding, today as an adult, you could have a negative expectation that says all men or male authority figures will be exacting and fault-finding with you. In the spiritual realm, that is the “radio signal” your heart is sending out to the men around you: “I expect you to be exacting and fault-finding with me. Go ahead. Prove me right.”
Or if your mom was bitter and angry during your childhood, today as an adult, you could have a negative expectation that all women are bitter and angry. “This is what women are like. If I get married, I will be miserable. So it is better for me to be alone.”
Unfortunately, a negative expectation is not just a way of viewing and relating to the person who hurt us, but we start viewing everyone who reminds us of that person according to the judgment we made about the original individual.
What About a Person’s Free Will?
A negative expectation is not powerful enough to overcome somebody’s free will. They still make the choice to do whatever we are expecting them to do—but we are spiritually inviting them to hurt us.
When we find healing in Jesus, the pattern will stop. We will no longer tempt others to hurt us, and we will find that they no longer respond the way they did when the expectation was operating. It really is amazing how this works!
However, until we are healed, we will continue to tempt others to fulfill our negative expectation of them.
How to Remove a Negative Expectation
When the Holy Spirit shows you that you judged one or both of your parents and now have a negative expectation, the first thing you need to do is repent.
“God, I am sorry I judged my mom this way. Please help me see her the way You do.”
The need to repent does not mean you are a “bad” person or a failure. Repentance just means you let Jesus reap the harvest of judgment you planted as a child when you reacted to pain. That’s it.
In any way you responded poorly—with bitterness, judgment, or by believing a lie about the person or yourself—you get to repent, and He completely absolves you of that sin. The painful harvest you would have reaped goes to His cross instead.
Here is a sample prayer for removing a negative expectation. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this. If He wants to give you different words, or if something doesn’t quite “fit” your situation, pray what He shows you to pray.
Lord, I recognize I judged for hurting me. I choose to forgive them, and I release my right to hold this offense against them, knowing You alone are the Judge of all of us. I release my anger and bitterness to You. Please remove these things from my heart.
I am sorry for the sinful ways I reacted to this pain. Forgive me for judging this person and for tempting others to hurt me the way I was hurt. Please lay Your ax to the root of this judgment and negative expectation. This has been happening to me: , and I do not want that negative pattern in my life any longer.
Wipe away all the painful seeds of judgment I have sown, and please replace those seeds with Your blessing. I invite You to bring new experiences into my life as evidence that these judgments and expectancies are no longer in operation.
When the Holy Spirit touches your life and heals what needs healing, please let us know! We would LOVE to hear how the biblical principles Elijah House teaches have set your heart free.
Want to go deeper with this topic?? Check out our 90-day devotional that can really help you connect with the Holy Spirit and learn what freedom looks like: