How Therapists Can Help With Societal Expectations
It's easy to let societal expectations mold our expectations and beliefs! Learn how they destroy relationships and how therapists in Cincinnati can help! "I think a lot of people compare their insides to other peoples' outsides." Emma Stone It's an entire story in one simple sentence, but for many people, it can be painfully true. Despite living in one of the most progressive, wealthiest countries in the world, millions of Americans are perpetually dissatisfied with some aspect of their lives. And, the research has declared it so. Over 50% of Americans are unhappy in their job. While only 1 in 3 Americans describes themselves as 'very happy.' So, if we are lucky enough to live in the 'land of the free', why are some of us leading lives that make us feel empty inside As it turns out, we aren't as free as we think we are. None of us exist in a vacuum. This much is true. But, in today's world, we are all subject to a constant drip feed of the way things are supposed to be. Societal expectations have taken hold of our lives - our thoughts, our beliefs, our hopes, our fears - and they show no sign of letting go. It's up to us to cut the cord. From the obvious and overt to the implicit and unconscious, societal expectations are creating a generation of regretful, dissatisfied, people pleasers. Yes, societal expectations have long been a thing. And, if you're not careful, they're coming to a home, or office, or social media profile near you. In this article, we're taking a look at how trying to fit with society's expectations can actually destroy your relationships. But, more than that, we're showing you how to fix it. Ready to go deep with this? Awesome! Let's get right to it. Societal Expectations Are Destroying Your Relationships... But, They Don't Have to
1. Your Relationship With Yourself The relationship you forge with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. This is a beautiful truth. But, somehow, in the modern world, it has gotten lost somewhere along the way. Societal expectations can directly affect our self-esteem. They also play a major role in downgrading our authenticity. Today, we are given society's blueprint on how we should live our lives. Societal expectations inform us of what to think and why to think it. What to want, and the reasons why we should want it. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the golden carriage. Right? In a society such as this, it can be an act of bravery just to follow the beat of a different drum: your own. But, march to that drum we must! Redefining Your Relationship With Yourself If you have been trying to fit in with the wider world at the expense of fitting in with yourself, isn't it about time you stopped? Here are some ways that you can reclaim your own personal power: • Check in with yourself. Do an internal audit. How is your relationship with you going? At this moment? In general? • Ask yourself what the main source of your decisions is. Do you make your own mind up? Or could it be that up to now society or your peers are pulling your strings? • Decide to stop people pleasing! Now and forever. It's a lose-lose game. • What about that voice inside? Not the one that screams in your ear - that's your peers, your parents, and your friends. The voice you need to listen to is the one that whispers. What does it have to say? • Listen to your intuition. It's the greatest guide you will ever have. • If you need some expert help with this, understand that you're worth seeking it out. When it comes to societal expectations, perhaps Rita Mae Brown said it best: “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” There is only ever one person who will be your constant companion as you journey through this life. That person is you.
2. Your Relationships With Others Societal expectations can also have a detrimental effect on our relationships with others. When we are tuned into the expectant frequency of society, we are given a whole range of different yardsticks upon which to judge both our lives and our relationships. These yardsticks make us and our relationships, miserable. Does any of this sound familiar? • You should be married by this particular age. • You should have two children by that age. • You should have a mortgage and settle down. • You're doing your parenting wrong. • This is what the perfect body looks like. • Here's what a magnificent relationship is. • This the perfect marriage. • Happiness looks like this. • You need a partner in your life. • These are the types of food you should eat. And on and on it goes. Social Media Compounds the Problem Are we always fully aware when societal expectations are at work? Perhaps not. One modern example of societal pressure implicitly at play is found on Social Media. Do we scan through Facebook because we have a burning desire to feel sad, lonely and envious? Of course not. But, research suggests that that's exactly how it makes us feel. Social media allows us to learn about other people, and in return, they get to learn about us. But the version of ourselves that we choose to present can be radically different from reality. Upload a picture anyone? Wait just a second until I find the right filter. And in a second, we become part of the problem. Every time we join the fake perfection bandwagon, we lose a little piece of ourselves. And, even worse, we encourage other people to do the same. Breaking Free from Societal Expectations Many of our default beliefs come from the expectations that society puts in place. Little wonder then that we end up feeling empty, disconnected and dissatisfied.
But, if we're brave, there are ways to break free:
• Understand that many of our default beliefs have been put in place without our awareness. • Recognize that perfection does not exist. You will never be all things to all people. • Your relationship with others - be it romantic or platonic, will never, ever achieve perfection. Relationships are complex. Misunderstandings are inevitable. Happiness is achievable, but only on your terms. • Decide to plug out from the constant comparison merry-go-round. • Realize that some of your friendships are preventing you from making good choices in your life.
Fit in at Your Peril There are over 7 billion people in the world and yet you showed up as you. You were not born to follow societal expectations. You do not exist to simply make up the numbers. And you're not here to follow the crowd as it canters towards the cliff edge. Societal expectations will destroy your relationships if you let them. Resist. The only expectations you need in your life are the ones that you create for yourself. Those are the ones that will bring pleasure. Those are the ones that will bring joy. And, if you're lucky, those are the ones that will bring little pieces of magic.
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Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com