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Managing expectations to help with anxiety?

Hello Tomodotchi’s!

Thank you for all the love and support from our welcome post. We truly appreciated the response we received and feel that we are on the right path. For this week’s post, we want to share our experience with the anxiety we feel from expectations.

As a quick side note, we’ve decided to start including a TLDR; at the bottom of our posts. TLDR stands for too long didn’t read and is a quick summary of the content within the post. We want to include this for our readers who prefer short reads. Although, we would recommend to read the whole post, but we may be biased! Now, back to your regularly scheduled post.

Expectations Galore!

Now I know what you are thinking! But Tomodotchi, expectations are a part of life! If there were no expectations, then how would anything get done? We hear you, and whether it be at work, your personal life, or even around strangers everyone has expectations. Heck even abstract concepts like society or community have expectations of us.

Expectations are engrained in us from childhood. We are expected to be good, to do our homework, and to not pick our noses! When we “grow up” the expectations get even higher. We are expected to be productive, to contribute to society, to follow the laws and even still not pick our noses!

These expectations are basic and allow us to feel safer in our communities and be productive with standards. We for one are glad these expectations exist, could you imagine if you went out and had no expectation that people wouldn’t rob you? Life would be terrifying and we would probably never leave our houses!

Expectations aren’t bad in our opinion; it motivates us to get up in the morning and to live our lives with purpose and intent! Where we feel that expectations can cross the line and fill us with too much anxiety and dread is when the expectations become unrealistic. This occurs when we feel the expectations have a greater demand of our power than we can supply. Times when we felt we had more responsibility than we could handle, that we didn’t have enough time in the day to do everything, or when we simply felt that we had no more to give and even one more thing was asked of us.

 

In whatever instance, once we felt that what was demanded of us was more than we could reasonably do, the anxiety hit like a brick. Suddenly the intrusive thoughts come in and keep us up at night. Thoughts like, what if I don’t get this presentation done on time? What if I fail and disappoint everyone? What if I lose my job because I didn’t get all my work done? etc. Our personal solution in the past was always to dig deep and push beyond the point of breaking; work a 60–80-hour week, sacrifice time with family, friends, sleep, and life. Basically, everything that recharges us and helps us feel healthy was pushed aside.

What is typically the result of all this extra effort? More likely than not, no one but you recognizes what you truly went through. You’ll get a pat on the back, a thank you or a well done. But typically, it’s forgotten within the next week and life moves on until the next emergency and when the next emergency hits, you’re thought of as someone who has the power supply to get it done. They don’t recognize that you are still depleted from the last one! This is true for both your work life and personal life.

 

 

What makes things worse is you may have created your own expectations of potential rewards at the end of all the work. You could expect a promotion, a raise, or even free passes from things you don’t want to do at home (like getting out of dish duty!). In most cases we find that these rewards are rarely handed out. This leads to disappointment and usually more anxiety. We feel that maybe we did not meet the expectations, maybe we did not give as much as we thought. This pushes us to try even harder and worsen our burn out or it could even result in self apathy and the desire to not try. Truly a potentially self-destructive path.

 

 

Wow… Tomodotchi, you’ve painted quite a picture… is there anything we can do? Well, see below for some potential solutions we’ve implemented in our own lives!

 

Know your limits

Most times we find ourselves accepting additional expectations because we feel that we can do it. Only to find out later that we can’t without sacrificing our own livelihoods.

 

 

 

So first and foremost, you should know your limits! This is not something you can learn in a day and can take years to truly understand.  Plus, we are always evolving and changing and limits change based on our lives! Everyone is different and there is no shame if your limit is lower than another’s.

 

 

 

Once you understand how much you can handle then you can begin to say no once the expectations get too high. Understandably, saying no in and of itself can cause anxiety. What if the person gets mad? What if they think I’m weak? What if they think I’m selfish? etc. While we can only speak from experience, most times when people tell us no, we find that we respect that person more. We respect the boundaries that they set for themselves and the strength they showed to enforce those boundaries. Candidly, many times, we are jealous of the strength they showed to say no.

 

 

 

Further, typically when we have had the courage to say no, we find that vary rarely does the other person actually care and they forget within a few minutes. *News Flash* People don’t care as much as we think they do.

Whether it’s a no to additional work or to plan tonights’ dinner. We all have our own limits and we need to learn to love and respect ourselves enough to set proper reasonable boundaries. The relief you feel when you say no is proof enough that you were at your limit and could not handle anything more.

On the other hand, we can also learn to be more understanding of others and their boundaries. We know that many people are afraid to say no, so we can help by asking people if they are close to their limits before we ask them for more. We can help provide the outlet and opportunity for others to consider and discuss their limits. If we can help enforce their boundaries, we can help alleviate their anxiety from unrealistic expectations. This is part of normalizing the conversation of mental health. We can make it normal to learn one another’s boundaries and help one another manage those boundaries.

Rely on others

In addition to knowing our limits, it’s good to be able to rely on your community. Setting realistic boundaries is hard. We only know how we feel, so we can easily think we set our boundaries too low. It can be very validating to talk to others, especially your peers. Getting the perspective of others has been one of the most validating activities we engage in. Together you can determine the reason you feel something is too much, or what is an appropriate boundary for you. Having community can really help you fight your own irrationality and help you set realistic boundaries!

 

 

If you find yourself having taken on too much and being overburdened by your expectations, you should rely on others! At any given time, our loads are different and as a community we can help one another through our trying times. If you are overwhelmed by anxiety and have intrusive thoughts, it is easy to think you are alone, or feel like you cannot trust others to do what needs to be done. But this cannot be further from the truth! Community can be found anywhere and the help you need is closer than you think.

For work you can always ask your co-workers for help, teams are not successful unless everyone is successful. From our experience, at least one teammate is always willing to help (even if they aren’t on your team). In life, it could be your friend group or even people online. We’ve found that the majority of people want to help. In a world of 7.8 billion people, there are very little problems that have not already been resolved by others. Simply asking for help can find you answers and advice that would take you days or weeks to learn on your own. While you should always validate responses you find, you can find the resources you need if you ask. You can also hear stories of others who have gone through the same problems! Much like what we do here at Tomodotchi!

 

 

Finally, we find typically that people are willing to work with you. Even in times when you mess up or are unsure and don’t want to sound stupid. Simply making a call or asking a question can get you the answer you need. You can alleviate the what if’s simply by asking exactly what you need from the people who know the answer. Don’t be afraid to ask the question or make the call. Don’t go through a night of what if’s when you can get the answer from someone immediately. Once again, people don’t remember and won’t think you’re stupid or silly. They would rather you get it right the first time or fix something to be right! It is ok to rely on others!

 

 

On the other token, we aim to be more understanding and to help one another. If you aren’t at your limit and you realize someone is struggling in life, reach out and help. Most likely the other person will feel too self-conscious to ask or accept help. But if you know they are at their limit insist that you can help and be there to offer your support. Simple things can help; door dashing a meal, sending an article for a problem they are facing, etc. We can normalize giving and accepting help and we can help alleviate the pressures of unrealistic expectations!

Don’t fool yourself and manage the expectations!

Recently, we learned something truly eye opening about ourselves and we wanted to share. In our lives we recently started to feel high levels of anxiety, intrusive thoughts and depression about starting this business. We felt the weight of our loved one’s expectations; the expectation that we be successful, that we provide a certain lifestyle, or that we move faster than we have been. This led to feelings of inadequacy and high levels of anxiety. 

 

 

 

 

However, upon reflection and discussion with others, we realized that the expectations we felt weren’t actually the expectations of loved ones. They were actually our own expectations that we placed under the guise of loved one’s expectations. If you are a people pleaser like us, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking people have high expectations or even misunderstanding people’s expectations. Now you are probably wondering, how did you confirm that you were creating unrealistic expectations for yourself?

 

 

 

 

Simple, we relied on others. We were challenged by others to think if the unrealistic expectations were truly from the other person. We were challenged to ask our loved ones directly, “what are your expectations of me” or “This is what I think you expect, is that true” and of course we explained the pressure and anxiety we were feeling as a result.

 

We found that we were not only wrong about the other persons expectations, but that all they truly wanted was for us to be happy and live a good life. They wanted to work with us to this end, and ultimately, their expectations were much simpler than we could have ever imagined.

Now at times, maybe others do have those unrealistic expectations of us. This is where we need to practice managing expectations. Whether it be a boss, partner, loved one, or even yourself it’s ok to ask what the person’s expectation is of you. They or even you may not realize how much is truly on your plate; if you can lay it all out most people will work with you to set realistic expectations. You’ll find deadlines may be extended, support and leniency given and anxiety alleviated.

 

 

Ultimately, for most of us, the worst that can happen is we miss a deadline, we cancel plans, or we mildly disappoint someone (which they forget soon enough anyways). The world doesn’t end and everyone moves on. So set your boundaries, understand others’ expectations and reach out for help.

 

 

We can help others by explaining in detail our expectations from the beginning. Make sure both parties expectations are in line. Ask the simple question of what is going on in their lives and be understanding of their limits. If we can create the opportunity for the conversation and understand and be passionate for others, we can help alleviate some anxiety.

Bringing it home!

I hope this story was relevant to you and whether or not you suffer from this form of anxiety, that you were able to pick up some tips to manage or help someone else manage expectations and the anxiety caused from unrealistic ones. Remember that it is ok to prioritize yourself, you should talk about your anxieties and ways to lessen them. If we don’t normalize the conversation and make it ok to talk about these topics, no one else will understand the anxieties they unintentionally create.

If you find yourself under unrealistic expectations or under immense amounts of stress or anxiety talk about it. A professional therapist can help, it definitely helped us! While we are not medical or mental health professionals, we highly recommend that you go and find a professional to talk with. The advent of the internet makes it easier than ever and it is a good first step to prioritizing you!

Also, if you have any different opinions or other points of view related to expectations and anxiety, we would love to hear it. This is a community and we can only learn and grow more from each other. We are constantly learning, growing and *shocker* yes, messing up; so please share and let us grow together. Your Tomodotchi community is always here for you. Remember nothing here constitutes as advice, these are just things we have implemented in our own lives. You should always challenge and be critical before you implement anything you read! What works for one does not work for all, let us know what works for you!

Finally, if you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our mailing list or following our socials to keep up to date with our latest posts and activities!

Until next time,

Your Tomodotchi

TLDR;

Unrealistic expectations can cause heightened levels of anxiety and depression. This can occur because we don’t set boundaries, talk to others or manage expectations. We should normalize the conversation and talk with one another. Understand what we have going on in our lives and help set realistic expectations. Work with one another to build a much healthier society where we can all prioritize our mental health.

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2 thoughts on “Managing expectations to help with anxiety?”

  1. Great message. Thank you for writing about this topic. In case you missed it, MMA fighter Paddy Pimblett also recently touched upon this topic after his last fight, “People would rather… I know I would rather have my mate cry on my shoulder than go to his funeral next week. So please, let’s get rid of this stigma. Men, start talking.” 🖤

  2. Pingback: How Hero/ines Manage Anxiety - Tomodotchi

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