Do you often find yourself feeling like you aren’t doing enough and accomplishing enough? Or, do you just feel like you aren’t enough? If your answer is yes, I’m right there with you. I find myself constantly feeling like no matter how hard I try, I’m still so far from the person I want to be.
Most days, I feel like a failure. No matter what I do, what goals I reach, what milestones I make—no matter what—there is always more I think I can be doing, and more I think I can be as a person. At the end of the day, there is this feeling of failure that washes over me.
I don’t know about you, but I am fed up. I’ve decided I need to do something about it. So, I began with listing off all the things I have accomplished today, this week, this month, and this year. I also listed off all the amazing people and things I have in my life. When I lay it all out in front of me, it’s clear I am the furthest thing from a failure. So what’s making me feel this way?
My standards are off, and if you can relate, yours are probably off too. If we want to live a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life, we need to reevaluate our standards by asking the following three questions:
1. Do I hold myself to an impossible standard?
Are your standards too high? I bet you have never been asked that question before. In the world today, we’re constantly being told we need to set our standards higher. Social media is continuously saying high standards is what we deserve, but maybe what we actually deserve is lower standards. Don’t get me wrong; I think having quality standards is extremely important for living a happy and successful life. But let’s be real, how many times have you set yourself to such a ridiculously high standard that no matter what you do, you just can’t reach it? You find yourself drained, giving life everything you have, and yet, you still can’t get to where you want to be. It’s deflating. It makes you feel like no matter how much effort you put it, it just doesn’t matter because it’s never enough. It makes you feel like you aren’t enough. In reality, you are more than enough. You always have been more than enough. Your standards were preventing you from realizing that.
What you need to understand is that the standards you’re currently holding yourself to aren’t necessary. Lowering them won’t mean that you are lazy, or that you are settling, or that you aren’t capable of being a high achiever. Lowering your standards means that you are realistic, you are true to yourself, and you are for once treating yourself the way you actually deserve.
2. Do I hold myself to an old standard?
Are you holding yourself to an old standard you set for yourself one year, five years, or 10 years ago? If so, why do you think that standard should still be your standard today? You are constantly changing. The person you once were is not the person you are today. The person you are today has different needs, priorities, values, responsibilities, and abilities than the person you once were. You have to be honest with yourself and determine whether or not your old standards make sense for your life today. What you were once capable of accomplishing may not be realistic in your life now; it also may not be what you need to accomplish now, and that’s completely okay. As you evolve over time, your standards are allowed to evolve with you.
3. Do I hold myself to someone else’s standard?
There are two ways you need to look at this question. One, are there people in your life forcing certain standards onto you? Two, are you comparing yourself to others and using those comparisons to set your standards for yourself?
If you have people in your life who push certain standards onto you, you need to realize it’s okay to not live up to them. Your standards may be completely different, and again, that’s okay. When you place so much focus on what others want from you, you’re no longer living life on your terms, and no longer living the life you want.
For me, there came a point in my life when I realized I would never be good enough for some people. At that point, the question was no longer do I hold myself to someone else’s standard. The question became, is that my problem, or is that their problem? I finally realized that I know what I want, what I am capable of, and what is right for me in my life, and if that doesn’t align with what others expect of me, that is no longer something I should allow to weigh me down. I am the type of person who gives everything my all and always has good intentions. If I know I am living my life to the best of my ability, regardless if that lives up to the standards someone else has set for me, I know it’s enough.
When you stop trying to live up to what others expect of you, people may say you have changed, or you are different. You know what? You have changed, and you are different, but for the better. You have grown, and you have realized that this is your life and you are meant to live it your way. If others struggle to accept that, it’s really because they are struggling to accept themselves.
Standards should not be based on comparisons, either.
On the other hand, if your standards are based on the comparisons you have with others, you need to reevaluate these standards. To be honest, the first thing you need to do is stop comparing yourself to others, period. Doing so is the best way to live a dissatisfied life. You should want to be unique, and you should own who you are. You are you, and no one else can be you no matter how hard they try. The same goes for others, so stop trying to be like others. When you strive to be like someone else, you’ll find it a million times more difficult to experience contentment in your life.
What this looked like in my life was my weight. I used to look at women who wore a size 0 and would think about what I would give to be that size. Comparing myself to these women made me become unbelievably dissatisfied with my reflection in the mirror. The fact that I wasn’t a size 0 made me feel fat and ugly (harsh, I know!). But I am 5’8”. Is it even healthy for me to be that size? No! Even if others might be, I am not made to be a size 0. No matter how hard I work for it, I will never be, and it shouldn’t be a standard I hold myself to. I realized I needed to learn how to admire, appreciate, and celebrate others without it allowing me to feel worse about myself.
Another reason why we cannot allow our comparisons with others to determine the standards we have for ourselves is that we never know the full story. We don’t know what is actually going on in someone else’s life. People show the good and hide the bad. They smile and laugh regardless of the pain they may be feeling on the inside. Many people put on a facade that just isn’t real. So if we base our standards on others, we may be trying to live up to a standard that even they themselves are incapable of reaching.
I challenge you to take time to seriously answer these three questions. I promise you when you realize where your standards stem from and take the time to reevaluate them, you’ll live a life with greater happiness, contentment, and satisfaction.
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