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Transforming Unrealistic Expectations That Limit Us

Transforming Unrealistic Expectations That Limit Us by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.

~ Margo Anand


Feeling guilty or selfish is a common experience for most of my clients when it comes to taking time to care for themselves. They often believe that it is their responsibility to care for everyone in their lives and ensure their happiness in order to be a successful daughter, partner, wife, mother and friend, which leaves little space or time in their lives to prioritize themselves.


These unrealistic expectations lead to so much suffering and feed the pervasive never quite feeling good enough or able to live up to the unattainably high standards we have set for ourselves. As a result we often feel guilty and disappointed with ourselves, which reinforces our negative self-talk, judgement, criticism, shame and feeling like there is something wrong with us. Our unrealistic expectations limit our growth and our ability to fully express ourselves and protect ourselves.


When I facilitate self-nurturing workshops for young women and mother daughter self-nurturing workshops, the young women consistently express how much pressure and stress they are under trying to meet all of these expectations. I see this manifested in my young adult daughter who expects herself to be outstanding at everything she does and ends up being very self-critical and judgemental.


I believe these unrealistic expectations contribute to our chronic state of stress, overwhelm and exhaustion. These promises we make to be everything to everybody also erode our self-worth and sense of competence and undermine our boundary setting and healthy limits both with ourselves and others.


So how can we reclaim expectations that really honor ourselves?


How can we develop realistic expectations of ourselves that create space and time for self-nurturing so that our giving is authentic and open hearted?


What is one unrealistic expectation you have of yourself that no longer serves you?


Can you imagine committing to transforming that expectation to one that inspires your self worth, confidence and ability to positively impact the world?


Only when we transform our unrealistic expectations do we make room for the authentic expression of ourselves and our ability to truly love ourselves, for as Vironika Tugaleva reminds us, “There is no way to genuinely, powerfully, truly love yourself while crafting a mask of perfection.”


May you reclaim your expectations of yourself so that they honor and inspire you and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!

Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Lore Raymond says:

    You had me at, “…welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” I have been doing this for a week now as the uninvited guest of a Flu Bug came to visit. It’s gone now and I’m slowly recovering. Self-care became the #1 priority and a reminder to make this the focus ALL the time. Hugs xoxo

    • Imagine if we all welcomed ourselves as the most honored guests in our hearts what a loving and compassionate world we would create Lore! So sorry you have been sick but as you said it is such an opportunity to prioritize our self-nurturing practices. Sending you love and healing thoughts! Thank you!

  • Reba Linker says:

    Hi Kelley, I love how you express this, and I honor your work with young women and helping them release some of these unrealistic expectations. Much love, Reba

    • Thank you so much Reba! I love working with women of all ages and love seeing the impact on our self-worth by having more realistic expectations. I so appreciate your comment!

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    Kelly beautiful post and on this full moon I feel I have released more thoughts and ways of being true to me. Letting go to bring in the new and create change. No more self sabotage xx

  • Jill Celeste says:

    Kelley, your blog post really spoke to me. My expectations are out of control – most of the time – especially as a mom and daughter. It’s a lovely reminder to love myself, forgive myself and to remember that I’m human. Thank you.

  • While reading this I thought to myself, when does dreaming big, become unrealistic? A question I have asked myself many times in my life. When the unrealistic expectations hold us back, and we blame ourselves or view ourselves as lesser than we expected, it is important to step back, reassess and have a gentle and compassionate way to embrace and love ourselves exactly as we are. It sounds like the work you do, especially with mothers and daughters, is very powerful and transformative for all. Thanks for this, Kelley!

    • I so appreciate your question Beverly. When I think of unrealistic expectations they are usually not connected to dreaming big, but rather connected to the roles we play and the “shoulds” that we buy into as a result. I agree that a gentle and compassionate response to ourselves is so important as is giving ourselves permission to transform our expectations. Thank you so much Beverley!

  • Sometimes I think I was the one who set the bad example for my daughters growing up when I tried to take care of everyone else before myself. Now that I am older and, I hope, wiser, I am committed to breaking that mold and helping them, and other women, especially elders and Boomer women, create a new model.

  • Kris says:

    Thanks Kelley! so true, these old expectations are so limiting and keep us from living the life we are meant to live. Thanks so sharing this wisdom!

    • Our unrealistic expectations totally limit us from living the life we are meant to live for sure Kris as they keep us from connecting to our true selves. Let’s release them and intentionally choose how we want to give and receive. I really appreciate your comment!

  • I am blessed that I have always loved myself. I know I am my own lovable companion. That is a great way of describing it. I feel that genuinely important to be your own lovable companion. I enjoy spending time with myself. It’s a blessing that you can help others who might not feel the same, or that has something in the way of them feeling that way. I will remain inspired to put out self care message to the world so we all have that knowledge.

    • How wonderful that you have always loved yourself and known that you are your own lovable companion Heather! You are a rarity as most of us are releasing our feelings of not being good enough on this journey of learning to nurture and love ourselves. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Rachel says:

    I agree with every word, I often tell my clients that it’s impossible to heal from what ails them and create a healthy life without prioritizing themselves.

  • Dr. Schavi M. Ali says:

    May you wonderfully enjoy your visit with your daughter in Santa Cruz. This is a fantastic time for us as women to nurture ourselves via the energetics of yesterday’s Super Blue Full Moon. The gift of its presence is a reminder to us to become “full” with peace, love, and joy as we immerse ourselves in fragrant spiritual baths, anoint ourselves with sacred oils, and meditate on the blessings of the Divine. Have a fabulous week and weekend!

    • Thank you so much! I feel so empowered and energized from the Super Blue Blood Moon this past week and am so enjoying being with my daughter this weekend in Santa Cruz. I love the reminder to become full with peace, love and joy that you point out and the beautiful nurturing practices you highlighted. I really appreciate your comment and best wishes!

  • Thank you for a thoughtful and necessary post! ❤️

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