Everyone goes through times when they feel pressure to achieve certain goals, behave in a particular manner, or even look a certain way. These pressure, or expectations, might have a positive influence and can challenge or motivate you to do your best. However, unrealistic expectations might not be helpful and could have a negative impact on your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Where do expectations come from? Expectations and pressure can come from different sources, including yourself, family, friends, school, teammates or coaches, work, or society.
Talk to someone outside the situation. Talking to someone outside the situation, like a friend, parent, community elder, spiritual leader, or counselor can be a great way to express your feelings. These people are also in a good position to help you identify expectations and help you work out strategies to deal with them.
Talk to the person setting the expectations. When you talk to this person, it might be helpful to use a phrase like ”When you treat me like this, then I feel…”
Have a variety of options for the future. Sometimes expectations are only focused on one outcome and if you don’t meet it, you might feel disappointed or like you’ve failed. One thing you could do is make a circle chart and divide each section into many outcomes you could achieve.
Chill out. Sometimes getting some space and a change of scenery can be helpful.
Express your feelings. Writing down your feelings in a journal or expressing yourself creatively can also help you think about alternative solutions to problems.
Look after yourself. It’s important to take time out to do something that you enjoy. And exercising and eating well can help you feel better. Getting plenty of sleep can also keep you healthy.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Try not to use alcohol or other drugs—including lots of caffeine or other energy drinks—in the hope of feeling better or forgetting expectations and pressure.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.
Rebekka Meyer, Project Director at FirstPic, Inc., has 13 years of program and administrative experience in youth development, education, and government programs. She has served Boys & Girls Clubs of America affiliates as an employee in Pine Ridge, SD, and Lower Brule, SD, as a National Training Associate, and as a nationwide onsite training and technical assistance provider. Additionally, through a partnership with the National Congress of American Indians, she wrote and piloted the T.R.A.I.L. Diabetes Prevention program curriculum for Native American youth. Rebekka is an alumnus of AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. She holds Bachelor’s in Political Science from Truman State University in Missouri and a Masters in International Business from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.