Your self-esteem and expectations are more closely linked than you may realise.
You’re doing something. It doesn’t matter what. Maybe you’re putting together a piece of flat-pack furniture. And then you realise you’ve put in a piece the wrong way round. So how do you respond? Do you call yourself an idiot? Or someone else does. And you accept it as truth.
Yes, you think, I should know better.
Or you walk out of a meeting with a client. Perhaps it’s an interview. You’re turning over your responses in your head. Questioning yourself. Doubts are creeping in. Why did I say that? What made me think I can deliver? How could I have been so stupid, you think. Or even, why would they want me?
And it doesn’t have to be big stuff. Self-deprecating small talk is as bad. When you make comments like ‘Oh silly me!’
No matter what you do or say you are never good enough in your eyes. You are too slow, too clumsy. And you get angry and impatient with yourself.
You have a list of unfulfilled ambitions. But you are doing nothing with them apart from using them to call yourself a failure.
Do you generalise too? Such as, using the words ‘always’ or ‘never’ about yourself or the situation?
And this also includes you if you say ‘I set my standards high’. So making yourself an impossible taskmaster?
Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself? You’re constantly putting yourself down. Relentlessly making unrealistic demands and setting ridiculous expectations on yourself.
However, this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. This behaviour is disastrous for your self-esteem. And low self-worth leads to more personal unkindness.
So how can you break the cycle?
Your Self-Esteem and Expectations
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws and everyone makes mistakes.
Your expectations are what you anticipate to be an outcome. Personal expectations are the internal standards you set. Therefore your personal expectations are how you plan to measure your own success or failure.
So you see these as facts. It becomes part of your belief system. You will have developed some of these from your experiences in life. You may also have picked up some from role models and peers.
How you manage the interaction between your self-esteem and personal expectations will impact your approach to life. It will moderate your behaviour and your attitude. Your willingness to try new things. To develop and learn.
And it will have a negative impact on your mood if you have unrealistic expectations too.
Remember that flat pack furniture? You expect it to be easy to build. The instructions look simple. You should be able to do this quickly. You’re half-way through and then you spot your mistake.
How you respond at this point is down to you.
And when you make your next error you react in the same way. Because each time you are using the situation to reinforce your self-belief.
Of course you’re an idiot you internalise. You’ve got the evidence!
And so you carry on looking for more evidence to prove this. Because you need reassurance about your beliefs.
And you let this mean person live in your head. Harping on at you. Stopping you trying new things. Holding you back from pushing out of your comfort zone to embrace life experiences. Even making you miserable.
But always validating your feelings of low self-worth.
Stop Being Hard on Yourself
So, you’re feeling low. You can hear your negative self-talk.
You continually fail to meet those internal standards you have set.
Consider whether what you expect of yourself is realistic or not. So, are you being fair and balanced?
Try to rationalise the situation..
Detach and look at things as if you are a third party. Preferably an objective and honest friend. Someone who will be on your side. What would they say about you?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Are there external factors that are affecting you?
But watch out for excuses.
Be calm. Reflect and take your time. Open yourself to possibility and opportunity.
If you have made a mistake accept that you can learn from it. Even if you made the same mistake before. So what? That is what makes you human. And remember, you are not your mistakes.
And if it’s bad – how bad is it?
Assess the situation on a scale of 1 to 10. Life is not black and white.
Consider your options and your next steps.
And if this is just about your ongoing self-belief then how can you change?
Your Self-Esteem and Other People’s Expectations
You’ve worked on being a kinder person to yourself. But others aren’t playing the game.
Their comments and feedback are making you question your self-worth. Again.
So you feel your resolve wavering.
Stick to your guns.
Let them have and keep their opinions. And check their ‘facts’ for accuracy too.
Bear in mind that you choose how you feel about yourself. Apply the same points as before. Be rational and realistic. Be patient and kind.
And believe in yourself. Because you can.