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Expectations & Mental Health

Posted on 29 August, 2018 at 23:40

“I should…you should…why aren’t we at that stage yet…?”

These may be common phrases you hear, say to yourself or say to others. If so, maybe it’s time for a rethink about the expectations you are putting on yourself…and on others. Having such high expectations can have a detrimental effect on one’s mental health. Many clients who I work therapeutically with tend to have certain rigid and sometimes unrealistic expectations of how they should live their lives, how their relationships should be and where they should be at a particular life stage. The anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression that can accompany this pressure can have a long-lasting effect on some indiviudals - following them for many years and sometimes even being passed onto their children.

It’s time to stop, slow down and recalibrate

Setting ourselves goals is an important, mostly positive and proactive part of life. They help us to learn, grow, develop and sometimes impart wisdom onto others. For many people, goals are created, achieved and other goals created without much effort. For others, the idea of achieving something that feels challenging can be an anxiety provoking time. If this is the case for you, take a step back and look at the situation realistically. Who is putting this expectation on you? Is it warranted? Does it really matter? Are you in the right headspace to meet the expectation or is now not the right time? Take control of what you can control and decide what is the right plan of action for you. Try to look at the situation by putting less pressure and judgement on the outcomes and enjoy being flexible with them to suit your needs. The positive impact on your emotional wellbeing can be incredible as well as help to build your resilience.

Everyone is on their own journey

It’s important to remember that we are all creating our own paths and all come with a variety of skills, knowledge and backgrounds that have shaped how we view ourselves in the world. Different people who have had different experiences will have different expectations of themselves and of others. Whilst it is useful to hold ourselves and others responsible for certain things so that we can give and receive feedback, it is also important to show patience and humility as well as kindness to ourselves and others. Let’s start viewing expectations as our friends who help to enrich and stimulate our minds, bodies and souls. We are all individuals trying to work through our lives in our own way - be mindful of this and start looking after yourself and others with your expectations.

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