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February 28, 2021

“The sky is the limit!” Is a term we hear used often. I quite like it, but I’d like to share my spin on it. This week we will be discussing expectations. There are different kinds and variations, and I have some coping mechanisms to help handle added stress. As always, I am not a mental health professional and these suggestions may not work for everyone. 

 What are expectations? They are most often defines as: “A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future / a belief that someone will or should achieve something.” There are several different types of expectations and I will be breaking them down today. Overall, I believe we put way too many expectations on ourselves. In that same vein, I believe we unknowingly put expectations onto loved ones without expressing those to them. This sets us up for a lot of disappointment and sometimes sadness or anger. More often than not, expectations are very similar to bias. This is something that comes up with the Nature vs. Nurture discussion which we will be sure to have one day. 

Whether we are talking about bias or expectations,  (or biased expectations) it is important to remember we DO have some level of control over this. It certainly doesn’t always feel like it, but I promise you it’s there. A good chunk of our expectations are subconscious, and they can be influenced by parents, colleagues, your environment, and your self esteem. Often times there is a hopeless feeling such as, “I can’t help it that a lot is expected of me!” Which in some cases is true. What you can help, however, is the fact that you allow somebody else’s expectations to affect your stress levels. I want you to sit back and think of how many times somebody has placed an expectation on you, whether that be a task to be completed or for you to act a certain way, and think of how it made you feel. I bet you were stressed, and then further placed those expectations onto yourself. This can create a toxic cycle of not feeling good enough. In the meantime, I want to touch on some specific scenarios and coping mechanisms. Think back to a time in your life when you have felt any of these, and feel free to further explore what “expectations” means to you.

Some expectations are placed on ourselves by others. The first scenario I’d like to go over is when a friend comes to you with problems in their life. Occasionally, as we’ve discussed in previous articles, this can become overwhelming. So you listen to your friend, maybe offer advice, and then a week later they call you again. There is an expectation placed on you that you will be there for them anytime, without boundaries. Please remember, expectations aren’t always a negative thing. The important aspect to remember is how to handle them. If you take one thing away from this today, let it be that you can not control other people’s emotions, actions, expectations, etc. Only your own. You have the power to set boundaries in a healthy manner in order to protect yourself. So how do we cope when this feels like way too much on our shoulders? You might not like my answer. Communication. There are different ways to gently set boundaries with a loved one without hurting them or causing an argument. An important thing to remember is they are coming to you because they trust you. They care about you. It is important to keep that in mind when setting these boundaries. Being gentle yet unmovable isn’t a skill that comes easy. I still struggle with it myself. Some good verbiage to use could be “Hey, I’m really sorry you’re going though that. I am going through some difficulties myself at the moment, and while I’m willing to listen I won’t be able to offer solutions.” 

Other expectations could be placed by us. For an example, I will be using housework. “Last week, I scrubbed the carpets and washed all of the walls. This week I should be able to do even more!” I’m going to stop you right there. A lot of times, energy fluctuates. There are so many factors playing into our wellbeing every single day, and these kinds of expectations can be very unhealthy. Just because you used to be able to do something, doesn’t mean you can do it right this second. This is especially true if you, like me, have any sort of chronic illness or other health factors that come into play. Sometimes the expectations we place on ourselves are way too high. We, as humans, thrive on routine and structure. Refer back to my self care article for more on this. But this doesn’t mean that once we do something, we should expect ourselves to do it every time. Sometimes, it’s just too much. The dust will be there when you’re done resting, I promise you. Now, there is a different way we can frame this. Sometimes it is important to keep up with self care tasks and not get into a slump. This is something I want you to keep. Write it down, repeat it over and over, post it to your forehead, whatever you have to do. 

“I deserve a comfortable environment”

The reason I prefer “comfortable” or “functional” vs. “clean” is expectations. Everybody’s clean looks different. If you’re like me, you often times need to remind yourself that spotless isn’t necessarily the standard here. Especially if your body needs rest. Be gentle with yourself, you are only human. Nobody knows exactly how to live a perfect life, if such a thing even exists. We are all learning one day at a time. We’re all new here! 

“The sky is the limit!” However everybody’s sky looks different.

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This week’s featured resources:

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health America

Thanks for reading, friends.

Veronica – Weekly Wellness

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