Why do I feel like I can never meet people's expectations?

I feel like every time I do something someone asks me to, I never fully meet what they want. I feel that when I finish it, they always think that they should have picked someone else to do it. I feel like they just want nothing to do with me.

Evan Podolak, PsyD
Evan Podolak, PsyD
Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
It is not unusual to believe that we know what other people are thinking about and feeling towards us.  These beliefs, which can sometimes be quite upsetting, are based on our own life experiences, including previous interactions with family, friends and strangers.  No matter how good we think we are at "reading" others, we don't usually know what someone else is thinking.  Additionally, low self-esteem may lead us to assume that we could never meet others' expectations or that other people couldn't possibly have positive thoughts about or feelings towards us.  Assumptions like these may unnecessarily lead to negative emotional states.  

One method of coping with these thoughts is cultivating a sense of curiosity.  For example, asking for direct feedback may point out the overly critical nature of our own thoughts.  Another technique is to use a balanced self-appraisal.  For example, you could ask yourself, "What did I do well here and what would I do differently in the future?"  This approach has the benefit of recognizing our own strengths while also employing a growth mindset.  Additionally, by using a present-focused appraisal, we avoid engaging in the belief that we should have done better in the past.  Rather, we have the opportunity to improve with the information we learn in the present.  

A therapist may also be helpful in exploring and coping with these thoughts.  
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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