Are High Expectations for Yourself Causing Your Anxiety?

If you have high expectations for yourself, chances are those expectations are causing at least part of your anxiety. When we expect too much of ourselves, we push ourselves to "do" beyond what the human brain and body are supposed to be reasonably capable of. Maybe we sleep less. Or don't take the time to prepare and sit down to a healthy meal. Exercise might go by the wayside, and who has time to relax and read or enjoy a hobby? Sacrificing physically and mentally healthy living to meet demands and high expectations can cause significant anxiety and stress. 

Are Your Expectations for Yourself Too High? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Are your expectations for yourself too high? Knowing what's driving your decisions and thoughts can help you determine if you're expecting too much of yourself and inadvertently causing anxiety. Ask yourself these four questions and answer them thoughtfully.

  1. How much are you led by "shoulds," perfectionism, or a need to perform better than everyone else?
  2. Do you make decisions out of guilt, to make up for ways you think you're not good enough?
  3. What is your sense of purpose? Does it involve going non-stop in your long-waking hours, trying to be perfect in all that you do?
  4. Where are your thoughts? Are they in the present moment or are they largely in the future?

Cultivate a Life Without High Expectations, Anxiety

Your answers to the above questions will help you know if you need to change your expectations and in what areas to do so. This often involves more reflection so you can lead a values-driven life that makes you feel both accomplished and peaceful. Mindfulness is a helpful tool in shifting the expectations you impose upon your self. Focus your mind on the present moment, the moment you are in, and allow yourself to live fully and freely in that moment. Work to accomplish your goals, but do one thing at a time only in your here-and-now.

You'll still have responsibilities and expectations, but you don't have to let them be so high that they control your life. If you're worried that adjusting your expectations means lowering your standards below a level that you consider acceptable, know that that's not the case. I invite you to tune into the video to learn why adjusting your expectations doesn't mean reducing your standards. Discover, too, how to keep your expectations mentally healthy and reduce stress and anxiety,  

APA Reference
NCC, T. (2019, June 27). Are High Expectations for Yourself Causing Your Anxiety?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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