Coping With High Expectations; Managing Realism

Managing our expectations into a realistic form can be challenging; we often struggle with setting the benchmark too high or too low. If you are someone who has trouble coping with high expectations, you may be subjecting yourself to disappointment, anxiety, and even anger.

While it is important to work within a determined benchmark, there is such a thing as having too high standards. Unrealistic expectations of others or yourself will only work against your goals and could result in the severing of relationships.

Discover the ways that you can learn to manage your hopes by incorporating realistic expectations into your thinking. In doing so, you can achieve a greater sense of appreciation and a more peaceful state of mind.


1. Are My Expectations Too High?


In order to measure your expectations, you will need to practice a certain amount of mindfulness. For example, are your expectations the same as your goals (hint: they shouldn't be), or do such expectations give you or others anxiety?

"To deal with internal expectations, you need first to identify where those expectations are coming from." Consider a typical example, such as receiving a nightly phone call from your partner.

Since you generally receive a good night call at 9:00 pm, you may have come to expect this as the general rule. At this point, you are putting the expectation on your partner always to call you at 9:00 pm, regardless.

While it may be safe to assume that you will probably receive a call, your expectation may not consider your loved one's changing schedule. So if a night or two goes by where you don't get a nightly phone call, this may cause you anxiety or even irritation.

High expectations can be problematic when they are not flexible enough to respect shifts in schedules, responsibilities, or changes within the human condition. This issue can be applied to both expectations that you put on yourself, as well as others.

Awareness is an important tool to gauge whether or not your expectations are too high. You can choose to examine exactly why you have set such an expectation to being with and the ways in which said belief makes you or another person feel.


2. High Expectations Lead To Disappointment.


There is a twisted irony that comes along with your high expectations. The point of your expectations is to construct an affirmative outcome, which in turn, create positive feelings of success, accomplishment, and even more intimacy, depending on the situation.


However, this is rarely true; setting the bar too high without having the proper information to base a result on will inevitably result in a letdown. How could it not?


Leading with your belief system is not the most accurate method to determine an outcome and it also puts unfair pressure on those around you. The mountain of perceived success that you have constructed from your own thoughts is bound to crumble; particularly if your expectations are completely unrealistic.


“High expectations are often a form of trying to control both outcomes and other people, and can lead to considerable stress and mood swings.” Sure, there is no issue in utilizing hope to propel your dreams and goals forward but when these expectations threaten your mental health, it is important to take a step back, to assess your emotions.


Here are some signs that your expectations are causing you mental anguish. Do any of these ring true for you?

  • Your mental health is suffering. You often find yourself stressed, anxious, disappointed, and even depressed.

  • Conflict within your relationships. Due to your high expectations, there is constant tension between your friends, partners, and colleagues.

  • You exhibit unusually aggressive or deceptive behavior. You may find yourself caving to the pressures of your own perceived notion of success, and as a result, you are acting out in inappropriate ways.

When you find yourself engaging with these negative emotions and behaviors, that is a sign that you may need to consider an adjustment when setting goals and achievements.

3. How To Deal With High Expectations


While there is nothing wrong with setting standards for yourself and for others, possessing unrealistic hopes will escalate the adverse results of having high expectations. And when problems arise that keep you stuck in a negative mindset, it is important to examine ways that you can help to manage this behavior.


If you are ready to alter your belief system, below are some helpful methods that you can employ. Remember; like most mannerisms, setting high expectations is a learned behavior which can be unlearned by practicing self-awareness.

  • Be mindful of your self-talk. High expectations can come from how you address yourself. Are you encouraging and practical when it comes to your goals or inflexible and impatient?

  • Learn to live with the idea of failure. Failure is a dirty word, especially for perfectionists. However, a lot can be learned from a sub-par result if you are open to personal growth.

  • Create more realistic goals. Establishing objectives that are manageable will instill more confidence without the pressure of feeling as though it is unattainable. In taking smaller bites, you will be able to see your journey towards success as something that is within your control.

  • Understand the power of teamwork. Putting unreasonably high expectations on others around you is the fastest way to burn them out. The solidarity of your team is instrumental in achieving overall success and as such, learn to treat them with flexibility and patience.

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘why do I have such high expectations of others?’ Furthermore, how would you even know if you did?

High expectations and anxiety go hand in hand; if you are experiencing bouts of mental unease, it could be due to the pressure that you are putting on yourself (and others).

Consider learning how to cope with your high expectations, so that you can understand where this angst is coming from and the effect that it is having on your self-esteem.


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