• Cristy Martinez, MA, LPC

Unreasonable Expectations and How They Could be Hurting You

Updated: Aug 5

We all have expectations for ourselves, and everyone else around us. Goal-setting helps us become better employees, managers, parents, spouses, etc. We tend to base our expectations off of what we want in life, goals we hope to accomplish, and who we ultimately want to be. What happens, though, when we start to become rigid or unwavering from these expectations? We become critical of ourselves and can fall into a pattern of judgement that says “you are not enough, do more”; this can lead to rapid burnout, increase or onset of anxiety and depression, and ultimately decrease our self-esteem. Emotional disturbance often tends to be a consequence of rigid expectations and it does not allow for true growth, as initially intended.

We can start with a healthy goal or expectation yet overtime as we narrow in our focus we tend to lose perspective and forget what we were hoping to accomplish. Perfectionism starts to enter the picture and we set a bar so high that not even an Olympic high-jumper can reach it! By shifting and gaining perspective we are able to question our thinking and re-evaluate purpose and intent for goals.


How do we identify healthy expectations and goals from unhealthy ones? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to further explore what you truly value and hope to accomplish.

  • What am I hoping to achieve?

  • 6 months from now, how important will this expectation be? In 1 year? In 5 years?

  • What would it mean for me to maintain this expectation or achieve this goal?

  • How is this expectation impacting my relationship with myself? With my family? With my friends and co-workers?

  • Does the stress induced by this goal or expectation hurt or harm my physical, mental, or emotional well-being?


Once you spend time exploring your expectations and identify faults in them, it is important to reset and create modified or new, more realistic expectations. Self-awareness without changed behavior is a stressful fate of our own choosing. So how do we begin this process? Use your answers from the previous questions and come up with a couple of new expectations, but the most important part of this process is to move away from the rigidity that previously had negative impacts on you and your emotional well-being.


It is good practice to reassess every so often as a means of checking in with yourself and ensuring that you are headed in the direction that you genuinely want to be. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your current situation and are having difficulty making the change that you want and need in your life, counseling can help. Not only can a counselor help with a perspective shift, but also with working through any emotional disturbances that have developed, this can include depression, anxiety, and excessive stress.


At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we have a team of therapists who are ready and able to help you formulate new, more realistic expectations for your life. You don't have to continue the cycle of doing your best only to still feel like a failure any more. Depression is treatable.


Learn more about the Depression Therapy we offer.


Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer your questions.


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