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One third of Australians feeling the weight of others’ expectations

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With new research from Sana Health Group revealing more than one-third (37%) of Australians feel intense pressure to meet the expectations of others, and two in five (43%) beat themselves up if they don’t meet their own expectations, people are left feeling mentally vulnerable and at risk of more serious negative mood issues. 

In fact, there are countless pressures individuals face on a daily basis; from family, relationships, career, finances and social media – just to scratch the surface. This unfortunately creates the perfect storm for emotional and mental health issues that can last a lifetime if left ignored. 

Insurmountable high expectations and pressures can affect people’s mental health and wellbeing negatively, both on a daily functioning level and a developmental trajectory.

Peter Hayton, Clinical Director at The Banyans Healthcare, says these findings are particularly emphasised within high-pressure environments, such as high-stakes workplaces or high-achieving schooling, and those of us experiencing higher stress or triggers should be focused on addressing the problems and alleviating the cause. 

“Understandably people place expectations on themselves and others but there is a point when this can become unhealthy and unattainable. 

“If an individual begins to lose themselves in a cycle of setting high expectations, falling short and then beating themselves up about it then there could be a more serious and wider problem. This negative mindset can then influence all other areas of life and potentially lead to depression and anxiety,” Mr Hayton says. 

Hayton continues, “Unhealthy stress responses can show up in different ways from countless incidents ranging from emotionally unavailable parents to an insurmountable pressure to succeed, to extreme neglect throughout life. The responses and coping mechanisms we all develop can include overreactions, shutting down, academic validation, over-protection or constant fear and guilt, of which they often remain prominent through adulthood.” 

Georgie Blundell, Chief Executive Officer of Sana Health Group, states while these adverse experiences can potentially cause decades of issues, problems and baggage, it’s never too late to start unpacking this with a professional so that the individual and those around them have the best chance at creating a positive future. 

“Recognition of certain behaviour patterns can be the first step to the journey in healing unresolved issues. Being gentle and reducing unhealthy pressures, expectations can play a significant role in breaking the cycle, no matter the age,” explains Ms Blundell. 

“While there is no quick and easy fix when it comes to healing with a loved one, Sana Health Group encourages early intervention and a holistic approach to tackle the cause and effect of expectations individuals place on themselves and others and how to handle these feelings in a healthy way. It’s never too late.” 

This Mental Health Month (October), The Banyans Healthcare is advocating for Australians to deepen their understanding of the impact relationships and expectations can have and how it’s never too late or too early to seek help. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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