Doing Life Together

desperate-2100307_1920We tend to think that having high expectations for ourselves or even other people is a good thing, but is it?

John always wanted to go to medical school, but felt like no one ever guided him towards that goal. So when he saw his daughter do well in biology and chemistry, he decided to push her to do her best. She, he believed, would have the chance to go to medical school if he pushed hard enough.

But all his pushing actually backfired. His daughter became depressed and driven by fear of failure. Instead of doing well, she started procrastinating, missing deadlines, and did poorly in school. Eventually, she developed an eating disorder.

In talking with a therapist, John learned that he overdid it. His expectations were too high. His daughter felt afraid to make mistakes and engaged in self-blame whenever she wasn’t perfect.

The therapist suggest he take a step back, recalibrate and offer his daughter a little grace. His pushing was causing her to resent him. She may be good in the sciences, but if she lived with a fear of failure and a need to be perfect to be loved, this wasn’t good. And, she would learn that she had to earn her father’s love.

The question we should all ask when it comes to high expectations is, are we pushing too hard? Are our expectations causing others to fear failure, be self-critical and maybe even depressed or anxious? Do we need to make adjustments in our thinking?

We don’t want to push so hard that we cause damage to our relationships and to the sense of self-esteem in others. Instead, we need to make our expectations realistic and celebrate modest accomplishments once in awhile. Take the pressure off and provide grace for yourself and those around you shooting for a goal.

Lower those expectations to a realistic level.It’s good to have drive, but when that drive is excessive and causing a person distress, it’s not helpful.


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