Self esteem and expectations are linked. By understanding and managing your expectations you can take better control of your self esteem.
Expectations are anticipated outcomes. This can be of ourselves or the world around us. Human nature is such that however we manage our expectations we impact our mood, our interpretation of ourselves and the world. This interpretation is processed and used to continuously re-define our beliefs. Our beliefs are how we relate to the world and if this becomes unbalanced so too can our view of ourselves.
Managing your expectations is about considering whether you are being realistic or unrealistic. Getting the balance and looking at each situation rationally will help you clarify whether your viewpoint is fair on yourself or the situation. To get this right you need good self-awareness and the ability to step outside of the situation, to be detached and consider all aspects.
What are your personal expectations on yourself? Do you consider your skills, experience and time resources fairly? Are you trying to do too much, too fast?
Do you expect yourself to be perfect, never making mistakes? Many will say that they do not, but try listening to yourself when you make a mistake. Are you calling yourself a fool, idiot or worse?
If you lack patience with yourself then you have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Expectations of Life
Even if you have a balanced view of yourself developing unrealistic expectations of the world, your life and others can also impact your self esteem. Expecting too much can lead to feeling low as things don’t turn out the way we hoped, which can lead to self doubts and self recrimination. Persistently expect too much and the self doubts increase in strength, along with the negative emotions and before long you see yourself as a failure or the world being against you.
How to Develop Realistic Expectations
We are not all made equal and irrespective of natural talents it is hard work that develops skills and time that allows for experience to be built. Life is also full of ups and downs, everyone has them. There is very little within our control apart from our behaviour and response to the world.
Good self-awareness can be developed by considering your strengths and weaknesses. Write them down, look for good examples. If you struggle to find strengths ask someone to help you. What do others like about you. don’t dismiss what they say but accept it. If there is little good to be said (possibly because you are being too hard on yourself then consider how you can improve yourself. You are an adaptable human being and can change.
It may seem that your life is worse than others. If you look around to find someone worse off than you, you will find them. Likewise you can find someone better off. Do they believe this themselves though? You can measure wealth but not satisfaction or happiness.
Try to look at each situation objectively. Consider it on a scale of 1 to 10. What is the worse that could happen, what is the best outcome? Consider your resources – your skills, experience, motivation and effort you are willing to put in. Reconsider the potential outcomes.
Consider what is within your control. If all potential outcomes are going to be unsatisfactory what is truly in your power to change. Your attitude, your effort, your environment? Your self esteem and expectations are within your control.