I'm fine, I'm fine, everything is fine.

Unrealistic Expectations

I’m always amazed at how many motivational speakers, books, and conferences there are these days. “You can do it!” “There’s no I in team.” “The only thing holding you back from success is yourself.” And the list goes on and on.

Through the lens of the world’s perspective, these all make perfect sense. Expectations — Motivation — Drivenness — Success — Happiness. Right?

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”

Antonio Banderas

Could it all be just a lie from the enemy?

The older I get, the more I become aware of the fallacy in this world that greater success means greater peace, joy, and contentment. In fact, my experience and observations have proven that quite the opposite is true. It seems that the lives of some of the most seemingly “successful” people are never satisfied. Always driven to more. More money. More power. More accolades. More beauty. More knowledge. More, more, more.

A more healthy perspective

I share my perspective on this subject with at least one person every day. Whether a husband whose wife is about to leave him because all he does is work. Or a teenager who is depressed and anxious because they can’t live up to society’s expectations of who they should become. Or maybe a senior who judges themselves against some ideal expectations they feel they never even began to live up to.

The expectations in discussion are not really the issue. It’s the mere fact that we impose them on ourselves, on others, and on our lives — and judge ourselves accordingly.

“It is the expectation of having to live up to man-made expectations that creates the problem, not the expectations themselves!”

dave ralston, phd

Case in point

Here is a small sampling of the type of expectations I think we place on ourselves that are not only unhealthy and unrealistic, but very counter-Biblical. And they place us in bondage to the fickle perceptions and judgements of other fallen, imperfect human beings.

Upward mobility

Climbing the proverbial ladder of success. Upward mobility. The expectation that if I get close to the top, I’ll finally be someone and feel good about myself. The flawed expectation lies in the false beliefs that lead to the drivenness.

I recall when I was finishing high school and heading into college — it seemed that the only kind of advice I was given was to get a college education, work hard, climb the ladder of success, and make something of myself. The expectation had been set. Needless to say, that was the narrative I built my adult life on.. until I was forty years old.

I had become everything I had dreamed of and that others had pushed me to become. But, to be honest, despite having everything, deep inside I had nothing. Success had become my God. Marriage and family were responsibilities more than meaningful relationships. Accolades and approval of people had become more important to me than obedience to God and His word. And it all came crashing down at the hands of my own pride, greed, and insecurity.

I had failed to live up to expectations for my life that I did not create in the first place!

Life isn’t fair

One of the most common frustrations in life is when things don’t seem fair. “Why did they get the job and not me?” “It’s not fair thatI have to work all these hours while all you do is stay home and take care of the kids.” “Why do they have such a big house when we try so h ard to be who God wants us to be?”

Who told us that we should expect life to be fair? Certainly not the Bible. God makes it clear in His word that life isn’t and won’t ever be fair:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NIV

Everything is “fine”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.” How many times have you heard this, or maybe even said it yourself? But why? Why do we so easily resort to this quip?

We bcome convinced by the culture we live in that to not be “fine” is unacceptable. We must have our act together. We must be stronger than our struggles. We must not ask for help or we’ll be seen as weak. We must never be perceived as not being competent or we’ll feel worthless and rejected.

So, one way to never feel emotional pain — or at least to never allow anyone to see or know about our emotional pain — is to never reveal that we ever experience pain or struggle.


Contact us to schedule an appointment or to learn more about Anxiety Counseling at Life Training.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *