Having high expectations can be a fantastic quality! If you have goals, aspirations, and dreams, you’re likely to be driven towards achieving your loftiest ambitions and have the energy to reach them!

However, there is a darker side to high expectations that can become toxic.

Let’s check out the five signs that you are focusing your sights too high and potentially causing problems that will stick around for years to come.

In What Areas of Life Can Too High Expectations Be Negative?

Ok, so the first thing to remember is that you might have sky-high aspirations in any area of your life!

And, if those high expectations are unrealistic, unattainable, or unfair, you’re likely to find yourself in a cycle of adverse outcomes and disappointment that can cloud your judgment and your enjoyment.

Perhaps you are ambitious when it comes to:

  • Relationships.
  • Jobs and your career.
  • Physical appearance.
  • Financial stability.
  • Material wealth.
  • Achievements and successes.
  • Your home.
  • Family, a partner, or children.

In any of these scenarios, we can project ambitions onto others – that perhaps they do not share – or set ourselves up for failure by not appreciating the obstacles and limitations that we all deal with.

1. Nothing, However Minor, Is to Your Satisfaction.

This is the first sign that you have excessive expectations that, in some cases, simply cannot be met. Perhaps you’re sick of having coffee that isn’t perfectly roasted, or your hair never sits quite right.

Your post arrives ten minutes behind schedule, and it throws your whole day off, or you rewrap your Christmas presents three times over since the patterns weren’t perfectly aligned.

There is much to be said for appreciating the little things in life. But if you are not prepared to accept that sometimes, they aren’t going to be to your exacting standards, you’re building up a personality that is focused on failure.

2. You Don’t Live Up to Your Own Expectations.

Next up, we’ll consider how creating unattainable goals can batter away at your self-esteem. Setting yourself aims that will test your resilience can be an amazing way to break down your barriers and achieve your full potential!

However, you must be realistic and be gentle with yourself when things don’t go quite to plan.

If you feel crushingly disappointed that you didn’t get onto that career fast track route in the shortest ever time, or didn’t get the best score on your assignment, perhaps you’re missing the point – and hurting yourself!

Think about what you expect an outcome to be, and be pragmatic about what effort is required to reach the result you’re after.

3. Relationships Do Not Feel Like They Look in the Movies.

Social media is a game-changer when it comes to setting our aspirations high; because we can see millions of beautiful, successful people who have everything we’ve ever wanted and make it look so effortless!

The same goes for movies or TV series. If you’ve spent hours of your life invested in a fairy-tale love story, you might find yourself applying those same standards to a regular person – and find that relationships are never quite good enough.

This thought process can be damaging, and you need to separate fact from fiction when ascertaining if your high expectations are reasonable.

Ordinary people don’t tend to look perfect every second of the day, can’t read our minds, and may not be hopeless romantics – but that doesn’t mean they might not be the perfect person to bring happiness to your life.

4. Your Mind Cycles from Guilt to Frustration.

Not living up to your own standards can be something you externalize and mean you reject people who are a great complement to your personality.

Alternatively, and often simultaneously, you might harbor intense feelings of guilt because you haven’t completed every item on your to-do list.

The key here is to remember that your expectations don’t have to be set in stone. We are all capable of slacking off. Catching up on some rest or taking it easy does not mean you have failed, even if your elevated standards make you feel guilty for not being picture-perfect all the time.

5. Change or Variations from the Plan Are Unacceptable.

Perfectionism is another of those fine lines. In some circumstances, it can be a positive way to achieve excellent outcomes. Conversely, wanting only the best can mean overlooking great things.

Expecting everything always to be perfect can be massively damaging to your relationships and confidence levels!

  • You find it hard to accept change because you’re busy working on achieving your goals.
  • You can’t look at alternative scenarios or change your mindset; it is strictly focused on the targets you have set yourself.
  • When things don’t work out exactly as you wish, you find it hard to accept it or control your reactions.
  • You are unwilling or unable to consider any new options because they do not fit into your perfectionist master plan.

What Can I Do If High Expectations Are Ruining My Life?

The problem with our values and beliefs is that often, we don’t know they are causing us pain.

Suppose you feel like you are frequently guilty, can’t accept anything different from what you have anticipated, and apply rigorous perfection standards to every minutia of every day. In that case, it’s a sign that your high expectations are not serving you well.

Write down what you expect from each relationship or situation, and be honest about what outcomes you genuinely expect.

Once you have recognized the variance between your high expectations and what is realistic, you start to notice where you are creating a situation ripe for failure and gradually adjust your expectations until they match what the world has to offer.


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com
  2. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

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