Rise Above Self-Doubt: Tame Your Unrealistic Self-Expectations

Have you ever found yourself grappling with unrealistic self-expectations? You know, those standards that sometimes make you feel like you’re playing a losing game? The kind that casts a shadow over everything you do, leaving you feeling like you’re constantly falling short? Today, we’re diving into this common struggle that impacts an astounding 85% of people. We’ll explore how we unknowingly sabotage our happiness and progress with our unrealistic, and often impossibly high standards. So, join me as we uncover four strategies to tame your unrealistic self-expectations, so you can rise above self-doubt.

Navigating Your Expectations

Let me share my thoughts, as I kick off a fresh challenge in my journey as a leadership development coach and entrepreneur. Preparing to record my most recent YouTube video in the Getting Real format, I was bumping into all of my unrealistic self-expectations.  The experience reminded me how those sky-high expectations sneak in, such as expecting to nail something new on the first try. But you know what? That’s just unrealistic and ends up denting our confidence. It’s a vivid example of how our expectations can sometimes hold us back even before we begin. (But, I’m proud to report, that my thinking didn’t hold me back. Check out my latest YouTube video to see how I pushed through, with three takes and some editing).

The Unseen Struggle of Self-Expectations

Here’s the reality; a whopping 85% of our clients battle unrealistic self-expectations that drain their energy and joy. It’s like being on a hamster wheel, forever chasing, measuring, and comparing against a picture-perfect version of ourselves, others, and possibly our lives. The thing is, we’re often tougher on ourselves than anyone else. But if we want to learn, to grow, to carve out more meaning in our lives, it’s high time we ask ourselves whether our expectations are helping or hurting.

Perhaps you’ve noticed how these self-expectations are keeping you from trying new things, holding you back, or leaving you feeling stuck or unsatisfied. They may be the reason you’re losing sleep over that elusive perfection. But, you don’t have to stay stuck. Here are four tips to switch from being hard on yourself to giving yourself the room you need to learn and grow.

1. Internal Chat: Be Kind to Yourself

Imagine a dear friend tackling a new challenge. How would you support them? Bet you wouldn’t be harsh or critical, right?  You probably wouldn’t second guess them or their ability to attempt such a task. No, of course not. You’d probably be all about encouragement and understanding. You’d remind them that mistakes are okay and that striving to learn something new is an achievement all by itself. You might even tell them you admire their bravery. Well, it’s time to extend that same kindness to yourself.

Shifting how we talk to ourselves takes some practice, but trust me, it’s a game-changer. Think about it; you’re usually your own toughest critic. It’s time for a change, and this shift in self-talk can transform how you feel about and see yourself.

2. Comparison; A Slippery Slope

Oh, the comparison game. We’ve all played it. It’s like we’re measuring our progress and success against that of others. But hold on. Let’s remember that those we look up to have put in a whole lot of time to reach where they are. It’s not fair to compare our beginning to their middle. And guess what? We don’t know the full picture of their journey or what makes them tick. So, next time you find yourself comparing, hit pause and remember, you’re on your own unique path.

3. Language: The Power of Words

Now, let’s talk words – the ones we say and think. Ever notice how the words “should” or “ought” can mess with your head? It’s like comparing our imagination with reality. And then there are words like “is” and “isn’t”, or “always” and “never”: It’s a bit like thinking in black and white, overlooking the shades of gray that make life interesting. These all-or-nothing words mess with our expectations and don’t reflect how life really works.

4. Celebrating Progress: A Pivotal Milestone

When was the last time you celebrated a win, big or (especially) small? Probably not often enough. Celebrating is key, even for the small stuff. It’s a stepping stone to bigger achievements. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between small and big wins – a win is a win. It’s all about creating a positive loop of effort and acknowledgment that fuels more progress.

Embrace the Journey

As with any personal change, taming unrealistic self-expectations takes some sustained effort. It’s about changing how you talk to yourself, adjusting your perspective, and appreciating your victories. It won’t happen overnight. Learn to embrace the journey! If you’re ready to tackle your self-expectations, schedule a personal introduction to self-leadership coaching. Let’s embark together on your journey toward a brighter, more fulfilling future.

Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. She has coached hundreds of people from a range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. Kristin trains and coaches executives, leaders, and individuals in Valuegenic Self-Leadership. This powerful development program will help you tame your limiting thoughts to master your mindset for more confidence, clarity, impact, and meaning, so you can start Living a Richer Life.

Photo by Hugo Villegas on Unsplash

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