Meeting expectations

Youth and expectations 

I’ve supported young people who shared struggling to meet their parent’s expectations. I’ve worked with youth who identify as BIPOC and described feeling anxious and stressed at the idea that they may have let their parents down. Some of these youth experienced anxiety whilst at school; before exam time or before a paper or project was due. Not meeting their parent’s expectations meant they had somehow failed which led to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt. In some cases, with the young person’s consent, I’ve spoken to their parent and shared how they feel. Some of these parents had no idea that their child was trying to meet their expectations and more so that their child was feeling anxious and stressed as a result. 

Work expectations  

I’ve supported individuals who shared feeling stressed at work and as a result, feeling unable to meet work expectations. Some of these individuals disclosed feeling burnt out and run down at work. These individuals also talked about letting their team and in some cases, their patients down. As I continued to support these individuals, it became evident for some of them, the expectations placed on them were too high and there was not enough infrastructure or support in place. Some individuals talked about feeling guilty and for some, it triggered their negative core belief of not being good enough. 

Family expectations 

I’ve worked with individuals who shared struggling to balance work and family expectations, especially in cases where individuals have children and/or aging parents. These individuals talk about wanting to be more present for their partner and children but feeling like they have let them down when they are not able to keep their commitments. Furthermore, some individuals shared how this put a strain on their marriage. As a result, these individuals are left feeling unheard, frustrated, upset, and lonely in some cases. Some experience anxiety both at work and at home. Finally, some shared feeling stuck and overwhelmed. 

Relationship expectations 

I provide couples counselling, using Emotionally Focused Therapy and in some cases, one partner shared feeling like they were not meeting their partner’s expectations. This partner may not always be able to express this feeling to their partner instead, they may avoid their partner and/or withdraw. Moreover, this partner may feel criticised and may feel like they are not good enough. When the other partner hears more about what is going on for their partner; why they may avoid them and/or withdraw, things begin to shift. With some couples, one partner reassures their partner and validates their efforts so they do feel good enough and more so they feel less criticised. 


It is helpful to have expectations and in some cases, it is productive to work towards them however, for people I’ve supported, trying to meet other people’s and/or society’s expectations has proved detrimental for them. I’ve worked with individuals who experienced anxiety and stress as a result of trying to meet expectations. In cases where expectations were not met, individuals shared feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment.  Some also shared their critical inner dialogue which focused on them not being good enough, not being worthy, and failing. 

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