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  • Writer's picturepaulaholahan

How to manage expectations of myself and others

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Can I control other people's behaviour?

In the UK, we are six weeks into lockdown and many of us are balancing working from home, looking after children, teaching our children, entertaining ourselves and those around us whilst keeping our households safe and well. For those of us who are parents, our roles have merged into one and this blog is about managing expectations of ourselves. We can't control other people's behaviour but we can manage our own. By modelling our behaviour, others may mirror it, imitate it and internalise it. So I guess we have to start with ourselves.

How can I manage my expectations?

One of the things that can help, is being aware of our expectations and our self-talk. In other words:

  • What are we saying to ourselves when something doesn't go right or when you perceive that someone doesn't recognise what you have accomplished?

  • Do you measure yourself in terms of your success or accomplishments?

  • What is the impact on yourself and those around you when your expectations are not met?

We can be our own worst critic and if we heard someone talk to our loved ones in the same way as we talk to ourselves, I think we would be quite horrified and rightly have strong words for that person as well as very kind words for our loved one. So why should it be any different for us? I would like to share one of the many cognitive behavioural coaching tools that can help when something does go wrong and how we can look at the situation more objectively and be kinder to ourselves.

How can I be kinder to myself?

I would invite you to visualise a specific time when something did not go as you expected.

  • What factors were involved in you achieving what you set out to do?

  • List them all.

  • Is there anything else?

  • How much responsibility did those factors play?

  • How much responsibility did you have for your situation to be successful?

  • Was there anything else that contributed?

  • Draw a circle and apportion each factor a percentage (similar to the pie chart above) of responsibility.

  • What do you see happening?

Hopefully, you are beginning to see a complete picture of everything that goes into making something being successful or completed. This demonstrates how we can be dependent on others or things to help us including our own skills and knowledge. This could be applied to our relationships; managing work related targets; managing family life and household; particularly during this challenging time when we are in each other's space 24/7 or living on our own.

Therefore, it is useful for managing our expectations as something completely unexpected might have happened that was out of your control. It can also help us realise that it's not always our fault and that we could be kinder to ourselves in our self-talk.

This is a subjective tool and it helps to change our own perception, someone else that you included in your circle may have a different perception and it can then be used as a conversation starter to help your perspectives merge and see each other's point of view.

Fingers crossed you could be lucky and you all have the same perspective but a word of caution, we all think and respond differently and it's important we manage ourselves and not others.

How do I move forward?

To manage this even further and find some solutions, we could now think about how we could improve it the next time we come across the same or similar situations.

  • What resources do I have available to help me?

  • Who can I ask for help?

  • Is there someone else in a similar situation to me that I could talk to and get some ideas?

  • How could I talk to myself in a kinder way?

  • What phrases could I use instead, for example what would I say to a friend?

  • What if I did nothing and not learn from this time?

  • What are the benefits and consequences?

  • What are the benefits and consequences to learning this time and putting some solutions in place?

Take care, Paula


Corrie S & Palmer S, 2014. Coaching individuals with perfectionistic tendencies when high standards help and hinder. Volume 3, Edition 1: The Danish Journal of Coaching Psychology

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