We are often taught that to be successful, we must have a career that brings us wealth, admiration, and prestige. Our parents usually expect us to become successful adults but sometimes either project onto us what they really want for themselves, or want us to become aligned with their idea of success because of how it reflects on them. This is especially true for children of immigrant parents. Oftentimes, little to no attention is paid to who we really are, what we want to do, or what our true gifts that are meant to be shared with others are. I believe a parent’s job is to nurture who we truly are, rather than put expectations on us of what we should be. However, if your parents didn’t nurture your authentic self, it’s never too late to focus on doing it for yourself.  

The closer we can get our expectations to line up with the truth, the less hurt we will experience

Mitch Temple, The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently About Your Relationships Can Change Everything

The expected path in life

Following the “expected” path to success can lead to a dilemma. If we don’t successfully live up to these expectations, we may feel shame, or be shamed by those who put the expectations on us. When these expectations have been ingrained in us since childhood, the feelings of shame and guilt can be quite intense. However, if we do live up to them, we can end up feeling stuck in a life that wasn’t meant for us, causing feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, or feelings of anger and resentment as we come to the realization that we did what we were expected to do, but our lives didn’t turn out the way we thought they would. This can also lead to addiction as an attempt to numb these unwanted feelings, along with a host of other underlying issues. Trying to live up to others’ expectations is not only a burden, but it prevents us from reaching our full and true potential, which not only negatively affects us, but other people as well. 

What does success look like for you?

Rather than trying to live up to other people’s expectations, ask yourself, what does success look like for you? Look inward and place your focus on what brings you fulfillment and makes you feel alive. We are built with an inner guide, which is sometimes referred to as heart, intuition, or gut instinct, but are often trained to disregard this guide in favor of listening to others who “know better”. When this occurs, our inner guide can get buried deep inside of us. However, when we learn to attune to ourselves and listen to our inner guide, it can be very powerful and can lead us to a life filled with joy, happiness, and fulfillment. Listening to your authentic self can lead you to a genuine life, which you and only you can create for your very unique self.

Chrissy Raghubeer is a therapist intern at Pacific Mental Health. She is currently accepting new clients. She offers $50 therapy sessions for patients without insurance.

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