The downside of high expectations

Holding high expectations can motivate a person to work hard and give things their best and this can result in positive feelings and a strong sense of achievement. However, when an individual’s expectations of themselves are unrealistic and demanding, they can feel an immense amount of pressure, anxiety and a sense that nothing is ever quite good enough. Subsequently, physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and panic attacks, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive issues and insomnia may start occurring.

Holding unrealistic and demanding expectations of self can be motivated by feelings of anxiety, guilt and are often set with the aim of avoiding criticism. Underlying these expectations are often painful feelings and negative thoughts of being a failure, worthless or vulnerable. By meeting these expectations, a person can feel better about themselves. However, eventually a person begins to struggle to meet these unrealistic and demanding expectations and ultimately a vicious cycle begins.

Speaking to a psychologist can help to identify and understand the function of problematic high expectations and help to change unhelpful thinking and behavioural patterns.

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