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The sources of anxiety: expectations

KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest?Europe Veteran
edited August 12 in Mindfulness

So after looking into my fears and goals in the pursuit of finding mindful peace, this morning I was experiencing some anxiety on waking, which is quite against my usual habit. I was still a little in that meditative state between sleep and wakefulness, and I asked myself the question, what is this anxiety? The answer that came was 'the expectations that others place on you'.

Which has left me examining for most of the morning what it is, the fact that contact with others places certain expectations on you and the different facets of that. For example I see myself as a good person, and so I don't want to disappoint other people who I encounter, even if I don't share a familial bond with them. Because I don't want to disappoint, I kind of accept their expectations of me as internal goals to live up to. An example is I'm very rarely late for appointments or meetings, because I don't want to disappoint. But I think this is also the source of some of the stress I feel at job interviews.

In a way these are expectations or goals I have set for myself - being a good person - which are causing me to put pressure on myself and they ultimately cause me some anxiety. So it seems to me I end up importing other people's perhaps faulty views, where I might be better off just accepting myself as I am. Making your own view of yourself dependent on others' views of you does not strike me as being very healthy. Self-acceptance is really important.

On reflection, I've found that I've struggled with this a lot during my life, especially when I was young. It probably has its roots in my childhood where I moved house often during my early teenage years and never got to prove myself in a social group until work situations in my late 20's. After that things changed, I became less uptight about it. But it seems there are some remnants.

How do you find you relate to your own expectations of yourself, and others' expectations of you?

JamesTimmFosdick

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Sounds like you are I are similar @Kerome - I always feel like I am going to let people down and it causes me anxiety.

    Not sure if it's related but, like you, I moved around a lot as a child.

    I am getting better though.... slowly finding myself a new, more stable happiness that doesn't rely on the feedback from others.

    You might find it worth while to reflect on the Lokavipatti Sutta

    Kerome
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    You're neither of you alone, of course. The adage "We aim to Please" may have been a commonly-seen advertising slogan, but it has been drummed into us from an early age that we should put the well-being of others first. All too often, we have erroneously transformed such kindness from 'after you, me' to 'you have it, I'll go without' to differing extremes.

    It depends on our social circumstances, conditioning, upbringing, schooling and examples set by others as to whether we really do practise politeness, or whether we actually steer towards self-sacrifice.
    Having had a Convent Education myself, (put others first, selfishness is un-Godly, just what WOULD Jesus say..?!) I am constantly surprised by my occasional efforts to do things in order to please others. Jeez, I'm now 60 - you'd think by now I would have learnt to re-assess my priorities; not in a way to cultivate more selfishness and care less about other people, but to come to terms with, and accept that I am just as deserving - no more, no less - of the consideration and courtesy I extend to others.

    I should also have the right to not only expect the same treatment from others. I should by now be in a position to be able to express disquiet (irritation?) when things of this nature are kept from me, and if I am deprived of the same considerations - I should say so.

    Vastmind
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    "I think the reward for conformity is everyone likes you except yourself." Rita Mae Brown

    That's really what it comes down to. When others have expectations of us, they are trying to fulfill their own and use us to do it. We don't have to be party to it though. Of course, in the case of a job, if we aren't on time, there are consequences. But I am speaking more of things like family expectations and those types of things. By us giving into every expectation to help the person achieve outcomes they have in mind, we aren't helping them, either.

    JamesTimmpersonVastmind
  • Kerome
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    I've become pretty comfortable with myself and am happy on my own doing the things I like. I didn't move around when I was young but constantly found myself not fitting in with the group. So with others I don't show myself really, I assume out of fear of rejection.

    I would be fine off on my own somewhere but I get much benefit and need others for so much in my life that I can't get away and my life is better when I have a community of people to plug into, even if peripherally.

    So it is a struggle to be involved while avoiding being hurt.

    Keromekarasti
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    That's how I have related to communities a lot in my life - "a struggle to be involved while avoiding being hurt". I'm not a natural extrovert, far from it, but this sequence of thought is giving me some new insight into what I expect of other people, especially strangers, and how I relate to them and what I expect of myself.

    I too have become comfortable with myself and with being alone, but I realise that I do not stand alone and that human contact is generally good for me. Often in the past I've gotten my socialising done within work circles but recently that has not been the case, mainly due to a lack of work.

    I feel a bit like a modern Bodhidharma staring at a cave wall for 12 years except that I live in a flat on the 4th floor, commune with the Sangha by iPad and head in to the village to buy groceries every so often. I doubt whether I will be anything like as successful as him, insights seem to be coming around one every other month or so :)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    How do you find you relate to your own expectations of yourself, and others' expectations of you?

    Expectations change ....

    My approach to life each and everyday is to do the least harm possible ( I guess this would be the approach of all path walkers) ...So it's important for this being called "I" to remain mindful of this commitment ...and with this as my mental armour (so to speak) I remain aware of my thoughts words and deeds just as I'm also aware (from personal experience...the five aggregate thingy ) of how others tend to react in certain situations....

    Change is inevitable (mental/physical/situational) Suffering is optional (worrying about what others might be thinking)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I have high expectations of everyone here. I expect, in fact, I would demand if I could, no less than enlightenment. I need all the help I can get, I just don't expect any ... :3
    I iz such a failure ... funnily enough I am OK with that ... o:)

    Kerome
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome

    Peter Tosh sums it up....
    "I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations , neither are you here to live up to mine"

    "I am that I am"

    However Popeye did say something similar... :)

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    Peter Tosh sums it up....
    "I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations , neither are you here to live up to mine"

    Perhaps he is right... but if we don't live up to each other's expectations, what happens to a harmonious co-existence? Is that what it comes down to, it's ultimately a conflict-avoidance strategy? Maybe we should just rely more on the generous spirit of others and a willingness to compromise and live together in tolerance and goodwill.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    Perhaps he is right... but if we don't live up to each other's expectations, what happens to a harmonious co-existence? Is that what it comes down to, it's ultimately a conflict-avoidance strategy? Maybe we should just rely more on the generous spirit of others and a willingness to compromise and live together in tolerance and goodwill.

    @Kerome You are aware that change is happening, and this also includes the expectations of others toward you and yours towards them... Flexibility is always called for, ie going with the flow ...but one must make an effort to navigate this flow in a skillful manner...

    Trying to live up to "others" expectations of "you" (whether this be you-you or others) is an impossible task ...

    "You can please some of the people some of the time ...But you can't please all of the people all of the time!"

    Some people are going to be disappointed no matter what one does ....

    Things are just perfect as they are...instead of trying to change things, just let go and flow with it Change is inevitable...Suffering (clinging) is optional

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome but at what cost does that harmony come? Is it really harmonious if we are catering to someone else's expectations out of fear of rejection or conflict? Isn't there a way to maintain harmony without doing that? There is a lady I know who is just one of those people you know throws a tantrum about everything. Screams at managers if an order is messed up at McDonald's, has awful road rage, etc. Everyone, including her kids, stay out of her way and work pretty hard to manage the expectations this lady has to
    "Keep the peace" but is it doing anyone any favors? Is that really harmony?

    I do find sometimes there are conflicts, and they happen whether you are talking about 2 individuals or a whole country. Like, when does the right of one person become more important than the right of another? And how to balance that? Where does my need to quiet alone time come in when my mom has very high needs to spend time with family? It's not easy to balance, but it is possible. The problem is that often we look at our needs and balance things too far in favor of ourselves and do the whole "Sigh, why doesn't anyone else care about my needs?" I personally think we need to do better managing our own needs than expecting others to always manage them. We can almost always find ways to do so, but we just get in the habit of expecting someone else to fulfill them because it's easy for us to ask them to do so. But again, that isn't doing them any favors. My mom isn't encouraged to seek out groups of people who share her interests if she knows she can call me and guilt me into visiting even if I am exhausted socially. Remember that sometimes doing what's easy isn't really keeping harmony. It just encourages people to enable each other in unhealthy ways.

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