Stress and High Expectations

In the UK, 40% of workers admit to experiencing stress created by high expectations. It could be that your boss, client, family member, or even you are raising the bar of expectation too high in order to satisfy needs. But whose needs should we fulfil?

Professor Richard Collier says that “many lawyers appear to be surviving but not thriving”, and with is in mind, I would like to share the story of Mark. 

Mark was one of my clients I coached during his contract with a top law firm in the city. He came to see me in regards to emotional and physical symptoms that he could not overcome. Firstly, he described his lack of sleep and his eating disorder as something that he was seeking help for. However, he continued to experience the same symptoms after some time. Because of that, he thought that seeing a coach might help him to find out what was the core of his problem. Luckily enough, he was referred to my coaching practice, and we started our sessions. After describing his work and home life, it was clear to me that his physical symptoms had an emotional background. 

We started with his upbringing, the primary source of information I use while working with my clients. Mark was raised by his mother, who worked as a doctor, and his father, who was a lawyer. His younger sister had health difficulties as a child, which he felt took all his mum’s attention. He described his relationship with his father as complicated. During the second session, it was revealed that he felt highly competitive with his father, which he felt was a family tradition. He mentioned his grandfather’s high social status, which put his father in a similar position to how Mark felt today. 

Along with the strong loyalties within the male side of this family, the need to been seen by his mother seems to play another vital role. Later in life, Mark married a wonderful woman and had two children; she also worked as a lawyer. When I asked him about his work and home life, he seemed to be very sad. For a man who has a good job and family, someone else would say his dream had come true. But not for him. 

Mark described his life as a never-ending race, he felt that he had to compete with everyone around him, even his wife. With this in mind, he let himself go and start describing his behaviour as more nervous and pessimistic, and as having anger towards himself. This was very crucial in his process, as he started tapping into something exceptional and yet profoundly hidden. Self-judgment, how this can cause stress? 

For many selves, judgments can be something very regular in their life, and they seem to be functioning very well. However, we need to remember that we cannot compare ourselves with others. Why? Different childhood, life experiences, hidden traumas, and repressed memories are only a few reasons of many that make us unique. We all have different emotional triggers, and for Mark, his current situation and past events triggered in him the need to fulfil not only others’ expectations, but also to survive and fit within the realm of the people around him. As a result, he developed the skill of raising expectations towards himself. Because of that, he started experiencing bodily symptoms as the emotional became buried behind the idea of working long hours, just because it is expected of you in the role of a lawyer. 

As a process coach, together with my client, we focused on what precisely was creating stress in Mark’s life. We eliminated protentional to reduce the amount of stress, and I taught him some techniques to help his body and mind. After his process, he becomes happier and more relaxed. Along with that, he was able to manage his emotions, which were challenging to handle before. To know more about processes related to stress, contact me.


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