Sunday, 18 August 2019

The impact of others' expectations on identity: Idealism, insecure striving and self-compassion

Women's feet standing in front of a puddle
Photo by Krissana Porto on Unsplash

Sitting down to write a post has been a challenge for me. It's silly because all it takes is typing some words on the screen. I've posted a few posts based on psychological advise and hopefully they have helped or inspired some of you. As a person, I rarely open up about my own problems, as I don't really see much point to it. However, I don't want to feel distanced from what I write or feel like a fraud or some kind of an impostor. In this post, I am embracing my open thoughts about something that has been on my mind for a long time:

The complexity of identity 

Whenever you are reading this post, take a second to think about what makes you - you. What are your reasons for being how you are? Are you the most genuine version of yourself or do you have values that push you to conform to others' expectations? By others', I mean people around you. Whether they are your family, friends or strangers. How do these pressures affect your behaviour? 

I find it difficult to answer these questions.

Social media and idealistic expectations 

Existential waffle aside, everyone is destined to consume material which addresses idealistic expectations of what it means to be a highly-functioning human being. We are ought to constantly achieve and be successful.

No wonder that management of self-worth is an issue these days. I am wired for self-improvement, however, don't you think that these days the concept of improving leads to feeling like you are never good enough?. No one wants to be a failure in other people's eyes. We worry about what people think and perceive us. The problem is that most times these expectations may not even exist, in real life.

We all tend to constantly over-analyse ourselves and what other people think.

The dangers of insecure striving 

The psychological concept of 'insecure striving' defines the experience of chasing for success in order to avoid feelings of inferiority and failure. This pressure to minimise inferiority stems from our 'social rank'.

We are naturally obsessed with our status in comparison to other people. People's expectations can easily exacerbate these pressures, especially if you are used to setting perfectionist demands for yourself. When insecure striving and expectations become a key part of life, self-doubt can arise.

You may start to unconsciously fit yourself into tiny little boxes to meet these expectations, whether these expectations are based on your academics, gifted achievements, lifestyle or personality. To what extent can we know whether what we are is real or an illusion to match these expectations?

The role of academic expectations 

Most students I know, who have received attention from teachers in their early education years and been named 'gifted and talented', have found it challenging to adapt to university and college. Amidst all the other well-performing individuals, these students begin feeling like they are a fraud which leads to them questioning and tearing themselves and their abilities apart.

While being named 'gifted and talented' is a great thing in itself, the expectation to conform to this label can be excruciating. This is a common example of others' expectations influence on self-identity. behaviour and mindset. 

Concluding thoughts and ways to move forward 

I don't personally know which of my values and characteristics stem from what other people think I am. I often question myself: where do the effects of expectations end? And when we are shaped so much by our attachment and environment, can we ever find the most genuine version of ourselves?

And that's my friends is what I call a:

quarter-life crisis. 

I always aim to fill my posts with advice and inspiration. Unfortunately, when it comes to realising and being your genuine self without the influence of others' expectations, my advise is limited. After all, this is one of the main things that cause me distress. 

Based on research and people who know better than I do, self-compassion and acceptance may be the way to go to reduce the effects of these detrimental societal pressures. Knowing that all people suffer in their lives and that no one is ever perfect, may eliminate the impact of idealistic expectations and doubts of 'being good enough'. When we start to accept ourselves, our true selves may stand out more from the pretend versions. Begin by reducing self-punishment, soothe your wounds, stop over-analysing your achievements. You are good enough. Life is more than just winning the rat race or proving yourself to others.

I hope you have enjoyed this little ramble of a post. My next post will be all about my MSc experience and advise on whether MSc courses are worth it. Do stay tuned for that. Follow my blog to keep up to date with my posts. 

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.  Take care, until next time :) 

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1 comment :

  1. This is such an interesting post and is very interesting to stop for a moment and think about whether how you portray yourself is actually you! Thank you for sharing x


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