Let Go Of Anxiety By Letting Go Of Expectations

February 20, 2013 Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

If you want to get rid of anxiety let go of your expectations. Be flexible and trust yourself rather than be immobilized by guilt. Take actions and move on.

High expectations of yourself and others (and situations!) can keep you anxious by telling you you are inadequate, that things are out of control, and that you cannot handle them. This will start the spin cycle of anxiety.

You will get anxious, anxiety will say "See I told you you couldn't do this!" and then more anxiety ensues feeding even more negative self talk. Your confidence goes in the toilet and which gives you more evidence you are a failure at life.

Do you want to stop this spin cycle?

One of the most important skills, and perhaps hardest lessons, I’ve learned in the last few years is letting go of things, including expectations and demands on myself and others that things be a certain way. It continues to be a work in progress, but I do the best I can.

~Edward Giles Brown

Let Go Of Anxiety

Two things are necessary to let go of anxiety: flexibility and trust.

1. Flexibility

Go with the flow! Things change all the time. Nothing ever goes as planned. If you expect one thing and something else happens, it is not necessarily bad. Anxiety will try to use it against you, but remember anxiety power is evasive. If you really asked yourself, "Is this new way that bad?", you might find that there is not much to worry about. (Mostly we just worry about worry.)

In reality, humans are extremely adjustable creatures. It is amazing what we can get used to. Anxiety uses change as a huge excuse to convince people into thinking A) they failed, B) they are inadequate, and C) they can't handle it. But none of these are true. When we cannot meet expectations, all we have to do is adjust them.

Most people are afraid to be flexible with expectations because they think expectations are the only thing that motivates them. Expectations are how people judge themselves. I don't mean allow yourself to be lazy and mediocre, but I think we can strive for being better people without all the negative self judgment and I would argue we can have even greater potential free from it. In other words, the high expectations don't motivate us, they usually evoke guilt when we don't meet them and immobilize us.

Rigid expectations hold you back and pin you down. Let them go!

1. Trust

Remember you are adaptable. Anxiety may have told you for a long time that you don't like change. But you have gone through many changes OK. (i.e., The cake was not done and so you let it stay in the oven a bit longer. Or: Your sock had a hole and so you put on a different pair. The mail didn't come when it usually does and you have to check it again later.) Anxiety often renders these invisible by making you think these are insignificant, but I argue that these are a great example of thinking on your feet.

Trust yourself. You have made it through some really hard times, and have learned incredible skills doing so. You are amazing and can do this! Not meeting expectations means the expectation was not right in the moment, not that you are inadequate. Don't let this talk you out of moving. Keep taking actions, no matter how small. Know that you can do it!

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace,
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APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2013, February 20). Let Go Of Anxiety By Letting Go Of Expectations, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

Kelly Hashway
February, 20 2013 at 5:48 am

I'm really trying to work on letting go of anxiety.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 20 2013 at 2:01 pm

You go, Kelly,
And I am seeing examples everyday!
<3 Jodi

Savvy Working Gal
February, 20 2013 at 12:50 pm

Great lesson for today. If I think back to the times in my life where I expected too much - to be married before my clock stopped ticking, to have a nicer home than my sisters, to visit all the tourist sites my co-worker recommended on vacation, my life got so much better when I let go of these expectations and appreciated where I was at that moment. In the end I was better off – I didn’t marry the jerk, I can now see the character in my old home and I have more relaxing vacations not stuck in traffic all day driving to the latest site.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 20 2013 at 2:02 pm

Dear Savvy!
It is amazing what can happen when we let go. It is then that we usually land, right?
<3 Jodi

This Is By Far The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself | Heal Now and Forever
February, 25 2013 at 6:05 am

[...] that is often the source of our problems. We expect to much. The process is much smoother when we let go of needs and expectations. (See last Wednesday’s Anxiety Schmanxiety [...]

March, 13 2013 at 10:05 am

Hi Jodi,
I stumbled across your blog on pinterest and I just wanted to write to you and let you know that it is very helpful! For the past year and a half I've been dealing with some very debilititaing anxiety and panic attacks. It's been truly awful. But I am trying to learn from it and recover.
I just wanted to let you know your website has many helpful tips and is encouraging. Thanks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 14 2013 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Stephanie!
I am glad you are taking control back from anxiety! There are so many things that can help. Try them all, but most of all believe in yourself. People can and do recover! It is awful, but it is not permanent! Thank goodness! Let me know if there is anything I can do!

Yuri Simões
August, 12 2013 at 10:42 pm

Anxiety is something that comes and goes in certain times in my life. There are times when I'm really self-confident and nothing seems to be able to prevent me from doing something - I'm not exactly a shy person -; on the other hand, there have been countless moments when I can't handle anxiety - it just takes over me. And I've been going through the latter. In fact, my real problem with anxiety is that I have a really hard time doing anything in front of other people and in public-speaking situations. A possible reason for that is just as you put it - a high level of expectations. I regard myself as a highly creative musician (and not a bad public speaker) and perhaps that is precisely why I'm so afraid of failing before crowds (or just a few people). Many times, though, I don't really care about what other people will think about me - I just got anxious about getting anxious, as you mentioned above. But your clear text has made me reflect on the real source of my problems. I have to get rid of it once and for all (or not that fast, probably), since I regard it as the only thing preventing from getting where I deserve in terms of success. Or maybe I have to just stop thinking about what I deserve. Anyway, thank you very much. Greetings from Brazil!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 13 2013 at 4:55 am

Greetings to Brazil, Yuri!
You mean you think you are good, so you have to be perfect! This is such an anxiety trap. Instead of using that knowing that you are good to, you know, know you are good! :) I hope this article helps you make the switch! xo

November, 19 2015 at 12:54 pm

Two things are necessary to let go of anxiety...what is the second thing?

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