Coping with High Expectations and Anxiety

December 22, 2022 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

I've learned that placing high expectations on myself has resulted in perfectionist standards that have caused anxiety. Throughout my life, I grew up with high expectations that I later on learned would contribute to my anxiety levels. Being more aware of this has helped me focus on how I can reduce the anxiety I feel because of these high standards.

I've noticed that there are both positive and negative aspects of setting high expectations for myself. On the positive end, it can be motivating and sometimes drive me to stay determined to reach a goal. On the other hand, on a less positive note, it can also lead me to set standards that are seemingly unreachable. Then, when I don't reach them, it wreaks havoc on my confidence and my self-esteem because, by this point, I've convinced myself that I'm just "not good enough."

How I Deal with High Expectations that Cause Anxiety

As I mentioned, sometimes having high expectations for yourself can be helpful. But part of the problem is that when you are accustomed to setting high standards for yourself, they often become unrealistic standards as they become unreachable and continuously higher.

Then, it becomes distressing to know that you aren't getting there. So those distressing feelings, along with the decrease in your self-confidence because you haven't accomplished those goals, lead you to feel like you're a failure. And then you start thinking that everyone around you also sees you as a failure. Before you know it, you start to spiral into these overwhelming thoughts and emotions of inadequacy.

Those feelings of inadequacy can lead further to negative feelings and behaviors such as social isolation. In the past, during my younger years, I think this contributed to my social anxiety, as I was often secretly worried about how others saw me. So, I would avoid having to interact with people as much as possible.

There are two strategies that have been the most helpful in dealing with the anxiety associated with these expectations.

I thought that adjusting my expectations -- which is initially what I thought I needed to do -- would make me feel better. But all that would do was reinforce or intensify my anxiety. And so, I realized that what I needed to do was change my perspective.

I've found that, first of all, focusing on what I am thankful for has naturally helped bring me to a more realistic place, one where I focus on victories in my life, big or small. Focusing on something as simple as a daily victory is enough to keep me grounded instead of reaching for lofty, unrealistic expectations.

Second, I've found that using mindfulness -- in other words, paying attention to the here and now, what my senses are taking in without judgment -- helps me pull away from any anxious feelings associated with setting unreasonably high standards for myself. Mindfulness techniques help me stay grounded, which I've found is often key when dealing with anxiety.

Learn more in this video:

How do you deal with high expectations that you set for yourself? Share those strategies in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, December 22). Coping with High Expectations and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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