Who creates your expectations?
Who and what creates the expectations you have on yourself? Who determines what your body should look like, what clothes you should wear, what kind of person you should be, what kind of things you should own, how you should act in certain situations, or if you are good enough?
What or who are the external influences on your life that create expectations for yourself?
Stop for a second and think about that last question: What or who are the external influences on your life that create the expectations you place on yourself? Which expectations lead you down a path that is better for you and which ones just make you feel you aren’t good enough?
Humans are easily influenced, a perfect example of this is how a good marketing campaign can create brand loyalty in a short period of time. There’s a person I want to introduce at this point, it’s a name that a lot of people reading this will know well, it’s Sigmund Freud. Freud is well known as the founding father of psychoanalysis but the only reason I mention him is to make a connection to his nephew. Freud is one of the most famous names from the twentieth century but his much lesser known nephew, Edward Bernays, was one of the most influential.
Bernays is often referred to as the father of public relations. By using techniques from his uncle and other leaders in the field of psychology he was able to have a massive influence on the public during his time. One of Bernays most famous uses of this PR influence was to get more women smoking.
In 1920’s America women were only allowed to smoke in the privacy of their own home but the owner of one of American’s top tobacco companies realised that they could massively increase their market if they could make smoking socially acceptable for females. In enters Bernays from stage left, he saw how the women’s suffrage movement was gathering huge momentum and making progress so he devised a plan where smoking would be representative of the progress in this battle. He hired a group of models to march in the New York City parade and then told the press that a group of women's rights participants would be lighting ‘torches of freedom’ in this parade. When the models passed the press photography section they lit their torches of freedom which were cigarettes. This event got a lot of national attention, on both sides of the argument, which ultimately lead to the acceptance of females smoking and the rest we could say “is history”.
The above example shows how easily humans can be influenced. When we look at the many different ways influence can be presented and through the various mediums that it is disseminated to us such as advertising, online media, TV, radio, social norms to name a few, it is clear that it can have a massive impact on the expectations that are placed on us during our lives. Some of these expectations can be a good thing but there are a lot that aren’t. One thing that concerns me about these external expectations is that they create the feeling that you need to be perfect in so many different areas of life. You need a perfect body, a great job, a fabulous personality, substantial income, fashionable wardrobe, you need to be knowledgeable in all things important to the world and so on and so on. If you aren’t perfecting so many different areas, you are failing in life. The thing is, you aren’t perfect, I’m not perfect, and neither is any one else reading this piece. Maybe I should say that nobody can be perfect when they are compared to all the different areas that are presented to us by external influences.
If you were to sit down and consider what was really important to you in your life, to think about the people who you care about and who care about you, and to consider what expectations are right for you, what would you come up with? If you were to remove those expectations that are put in front of you, what would you do differently? Would you shift your energy towards different behaviors and choices in your life?
I’m not sure if anyone can ever get to the perfect life that is presented to us, to me it just seems unrealistic but I do believe that if you can set your own expectations based on who you really are and what is really important to you, you can lead your own perfect life.
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