The Weight Of Expectations

Photo by Yasin Yusuf on Unsplash

We live in a society that places great weight of expectations upon us. We may not realise just how big an impact this has on our mental wellbeing every day. It’s about time that we let some of these expectations go! How many are really that important to us anyway?

What are these expectations?

There are in fact too many to list here. But they could be anything. The way we look or the clothes we wear. Also what job we have or where we live. The list could go on almost endlessly. Of course, the importance of these expectations will vary from person to person. Some will have more and others less. However, every person will have some.

Where do they come from?

Essentially these are part of the unwritten rules that help to govern the society in which we live. They are present throughout all cultures and have been for countless millennia. They also play an intrinsic part in the communities and social groups we choose to associate with.

These can include family and friendship groups, work or religious affiliations. Essentially to become part of any group we must meet with a specific set of expectations. If we don’t we are in danger of being excluded. Indeed that fear of being ostracised can be an expectation in itself and part of the problem.

What can be done?

As much as we may want to, we can’t just throw expectations out of the window. The reason is that we must live and function in society. Bar running away to some deserted island to live as a hermit, we cannot do it. Even there, there is no guarantee to be completely expectation free. Ever since humans started to gather together in groups it is likely that some form of expectation has been present. Therefore fighting against this is an extremely difficult task.


All is not lost. The fact is, society creates these expectations but we give them their significance. We decide how much weight we assign them. And we must carry that weight with us every day.

We can let go of some of the weight if we decide to. We do this by looking at each of these expectations and asking what is it really there for? What is really behind it? And ‘Cui Bono’ (who benefits).

We will likely be surprised by what we find in some cases. Take for example what we buy. Companies spend vast amounts of money influencing the latest trends, through advertising.

They are the ones pushing as the latest ‘must haves’ not our friends. And they are doing it to make money. Pure and simple.  Expectations from family can often be a projection of their wants upon us. Or what they think is best for us. Whether that is true or not is ultimately up to us to decide.

It’s not easy

We can really help ourselves by separating out what is really behind these expectations. The expectation may not necessarily go away but we can at least understand it. And then decide how much we allow them to influence us or we worry about them. As humans and members of society, the default position is to simply accept expectations and all that is brought with them. This does not have to be the case.

In conclusion

We will often feel dragged by expectations, day to day . It causes a lot of stress and anxiety at times. As well as taking up a lot of thinking space, albeit unconsciously. This has an impact on our mental health and wellness. It is very easy to just accept this. And unfortunately, we do most of the time.

When we don’t quite fit or struggle to meet with who we think we should be or what we should be doing, life becomes very hard. In trying to conform to all the expectations we face we create for ourselves an almost impossible task.

But we can break this habit. It may feel extremely difficult and uncomfortable to do. It is something that is not natural to do. With effort it is possible. With it come both relief and a sense of freedom, which for our mental health can be invaluable.  

Is it time to look at the expectations you carry?

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