What the Stoics Can Teach Us About Managing Our Expectations and Inner Narrative

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Leigh Kendall – 9th March 2018

Oh, the best laid plans…

We can plan and prepare to the best of our abilities; we can do risk assessments; we can mitigate for a whole host of possibilities.

We still need to manage our expectations.

When seeking to influence positive change, it likely that there will be pitfalls along the way – you’re likely to experience challenge in the form of reactance and resistance, for example – and realising the end goal can take time.

We also need to manage our expectations: act, not just talk about it; and understand that for the most part, we reap the benefits of what we put in. 

That said, with the best will in the world it’s likely that life will throw hurdles in your path. It’s how you deal with them that counts.

And it’s what you tell yourself about those hurdles. It’s easy to fall into the trap after one small mishap, of telling ourselves “well that was a disaster, I’m obviously hopeless, what’s the point in trying again?”

I’m sure many of us have held similar thoughts and self-limiting beliefs about something at some point during our lives. 

These pitfalls and hurdles are why it is crucial to build your personal resilience, and support others to build theirs – it is something that we need to build like a muscle, as my colleague Kathryn Perera beautifully articulates in this post

As Kathryn says, the key to building our resilience is little and often. 

Here are some practical points to remember:

  1. Challenge your self-limiting beliefs by telling yourself that you can do it.
  2. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – try to have realistic expectations, and set mini-goals.
  3. Remind yourself of occasions in the past when you have triumphed. 
  4. Seek out a supportive, listening ear. 
  5. Celebrate the wins, however small.

Hold faith in your abilities and that, in the end, you will prevail.

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose —with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”