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Standards & Judgements – What are they and what do they do?

In the session, Sriram (imaginary character) said, “I don’t judge people. I just have standards for myself. I don’t like to be a mediocre. I don’t like failure !. But that doesn’t mean, I judge others who fail. I don’t say anything when a friend of mine fails.”

Therapists hear these lines from many clients who are suffering from anxiety, depression, low self esteem and victims of abuse, especially narcissistic abuse. Such people create standards for themselves. Mostly such standards come from their parent’s narratives.

Such people who live with standards only understand that they do have standards, but they fail in understanding what those standards are (how they originated, how their parents imposed on them, etc) and what such standards do to their day today life.

What standards do to their life? 1. Standards become rules and should statements. A person who has standards will become rigid and fixed. He/She tries to follow standards at any cost in such a way that it creates anxiety to them and that leads to vicious cycle of failures. I.e., they dont want to fail, they become too rigid about becoming successful, rigidity makes them very anxious about failure and that in turn leads to their failure because they either tend to avoid tasks or fail in doing tasks properly with peaceful mind.

Secondly, such standards separate those people from others. Sriram has standards. he thought, he likes applying standards to himself, but unknowingly, he applies to everyone in his day today life. He stays away from people who waste time by watching movies and thats coming from standards, he admires toppers and follows / imitates successful people, that inturn creates a kind of bias in him. He unknowingly moves away from empathetic people and gets attracted to cold people who are more successful and he gets dissatisfied with relations he has because he doesnt understand that his standards are making him chose wrong people all the time.

Ofcourse Sriram believes that he is not applying his standards to anyone. However, holding onto personal standards which are applicable to self will separate him from world. If he starts believing that they are universal standards, he will start imposing on others. Even though he doesnt want to, he might unknowingly impose on vulnerable population like his children or people who seek help from him.

What he can do to overcome this problem is,

  1. Build awareness about what are his personal standards

  2. Look where he is unknowingly applying them – on self or on others

  3. Challenge his standards

  4. Identify their source and try to understand about origin of such standards (Which is definitely a pathological path)

  5. Ultimately learn that there are no universal standards and learn that World is imperfect.

  6. Learn to prioritize their own authentic values over learned conditions

  7. Learn how to be motivated by replacing standards with passion

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