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  • Writer's pictureStacy G. Smith, MS, LPC

Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #22

Expectations come in two forms: those we place on ourselves, and those others place on us. Either way, expectations set a bar that we feel we need to reach (remember all the way back to Tip #1). When we feel the need to achieve something, anxiety almost always follows suit. We may begin to adopt the following thoughts, some of which we don't even realize:

"What if I don't measure up to these standards?"

"What if I don't achieve the most sales at work this month?"

"How will I ever get into college if I don't achieve stellar grades?"

"If I don't meet my quota at work, I'll be looked down upon for sure."

"I need to get the perfect job so my college degree will be worth it."

Among others.

While it is great to set goals and strive for them, the problem occurs when we set these goals too high, too fast. Setting large goals to be achieved in a short time frame puts pressure on ourselves. Even though we may be progressing in the right direction, we may discount this progress if it does not measure up to our ultimate bar - our expectation. This can leave us feeling anxious, frustrated, defeated, and angry, especially with ourselves.

If you like setting large goals for yourself, do so without a time frame. Form a clear picture of what you would like to achieve, and then break it down into smaller, more realistic goals - ones you can achieve day to day. Minimizing or eliminating expectations allows us to not only make progress, but to see and appreciate the progress. When we let go of expectations, any step we take is a success. When we firmly hold onto expectations, only the end result is our success.

If you feel others are placing expectations on you - whether this is society, your family, friends, teachers, or coworkers - it is important to evaluate where they are coming from. Is it that they would only approve if you reached the bar they set? Or is that they just want you to be happy, successful, and feeling good about yourself? If the latter is the case, those qualities can be achieved in a multitude of ways.

And remember, your journey towards happiness and success is a personal one. It will not look the same as the person next to you because you are two different people. At the end of the day, it is important to be achieving your goals, at your pace, and with your skills and qualities. This will allow you to not only feel good at your destination, but along the journey as well. This produces a happier and healthier life for yourself, and who doesn't want that?


DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.​

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