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What is behind the fear of not meeting expectations

“I worry that I will not be able to live up to expectations in my new job. I am not sure if my work is good enough. If I got more compliments or recognition, it would help me to know that I am doing a good job.”

These and other worrying thoughts about our value can run through our mind in regards to meeting expectations at work. We all want to get recognised, be seen as valuable, and create an impact with our work. But often, we may find ourselves wondering whether what we do is good enough and if others see the value we bring.

Why do we worry?

I think it's fascinating to explore this further and understand what is really going on here. When I think of 'meeting expectations,' I immediately think of 'fitting into a picture of what someone else wants from us.' With that we give our power to other people and become dependent on their positive feedback. We want them to be happy with us and we need their validation to feel satisfied with ourselves. Without that external feedback, we start to feel lost, as we cannot recognise our own value and contribution ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer of the importance of striving for high-quality work and bringing value, and I think it's essential to be clear on what is expected of us in our jobs. HOWEVER, what I fear is not helping us, is becoming too dependent on the recognition and validation from others.

I believe that what we are really terrified of is their disapproval.

We don't want to feel alone and excluded, so we strive hard to deliver a high quality work we 'think' others expect of us. Only with their recognition, we can relax, as it gives us an indication that what we do is valuable.

But does this pattern make us feel empowered? I think it's quite the opposite. We feel powerless, as the others are 'deciding' if we are doing a good job or not. What if we are really doing a great job, but people around us don’t give us compliments? Does that mean that we are left to live in fear of not meeting expectations and believing that we are not good enough?

Is there a better way?

I like to think that there is a better way to live our lives. Through self-approval. Learning to lean into recognising our own value, starting to see our efforts and contributions regardless of whether others recognise them or not. Becoming our own cheerleaders will turn into fuel for self-love and self-compassion.

The more we love and appreciate ourselves for what we do, the more we can be there for ourselves in challenging moments. The most important relationship we will ever have, is the one we have with ourselves. I believe that it is essential to cherish that relationship, as it eventually reflects all relationships we have with others.

Practical exercise

With this, I want to I invite you to start embracing the idea that you DO BRING VALUE, AND DO ENOUGH. Start repeating to yourself, at least ten times a day - I love and approve of myself, just the way I am. It may feel strange, or even fake at first, but the more frequent you do it, the easier it will become. In hard moments of the day, go back to this ‘mantra’ and repeat to yourself - I love and approve of myself, just the way I am.

There is a hidden power that will start to emerge from these words. You will start building strong self-respect, and deep love for yourself, that will carry you through difficult situations, and enable you to recognise your value without the need to get validated from others. You will start to feel a flow of calm, relaxed, and joyful energy coming in.

Let me know what part resonated with you. When do you strive for the approval of others the most? Will you give it a go and start approving of yourself no matter what? Send me a message, I would love to hear from you.

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