Expectations and self-doubt

We can go through life setting expectations for ourselves and striving to achieve those set by others. This starts from a very early age - is the little one talking, walking, toilet trained, etc? the list goes on and the expectations keep coming!

As we move through school and the education system the expectations grow, what we need to achieve to get on the next rung of the ladder. The emphasis is so often on the future rather than the here and now. These expectations can have a negative impact on our current life experiences. If we are always focused on the future, we forget to experience life in the present. Of course, it is important to want to succeed in our chosen pursuits, however this should not be done to the detriment of our mental health and wellbeing.

There can be a great temptation to compare ourselves to others - 'oh, they are better at music, business studies, management, people skills' etc. What matters is if we can say that we have done our best and that we are ‘good enough’, striving for perfection can set us up for unattainable goals and ultimately potential failure. By working within our own limits and to our own strengths we can work towards achieving our own full potential.

If we work towards the expectations of others this can mean that we incur self-doubt, we can stop believing in what we are capable of, or assume it is not going to be good enough.

How can we strive to overcome self-doubt?

  • Try to stop the comparison to others.
  • Recognise your negative thoughts and take positive action to quieten them.
  • Consider the evidence for your self-doubt. Possibly something hasn’t gone as well as you hoped but that does not necessarily mean the same thing will happen again, especially if you are aware of what could be done differently.
  • Acknowledge your achievements.
  • Trust your gut! Quite often the first choice we make is the right one as we have gone with instinct rather than allowing self-doubt and the influences of others to shape our thoughts.
  • Listen to the people who believe in you.
  • Talk about your thoughts and feelings.
  • Recognise that we all make mistakes. Use mistakes as learning and development.
  • Build resistance and try to move on rather than dwelling. Dwelling on issues is a sure-fire way to feed self-doubt!
  • Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to shine, do things that you enjoy and are good at when you can.

This can all take time and knocks to our confidence can make the urge to give up and go back to our self-doubting ways strong, but remember that this is about changing a mindset, one that has probably been with us throughout our lives. Start to consider what you have achieved no matter how small it is, it’s your achievement. When we have emotional or physical issues this can be getting out of bed. A massive step in its own right and one that should be acknowledged.

Try to start believing in the individual you are, not who others expect you to be.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Cheshire, CH4
Written by Lucinda Milne, Diploma in counselling
Cheshire, CH4

Lucinda Milne Dip Couns
Awareness in Bereavement Training
Certificate in Autistic Spectrum Disorder
I have worked in the bereavement sector since 2013. I have a wide variety of experience working with both adults and children.
I have experience in working with children with additional needs.

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