Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
Are excessively high standards hurting your self esteem? Low self esteem can be the result of trying to meet unrealistic standards - ones we acquired early in life and which are no longer relevant. It's important to recognize when we are beating ourselves to live up to crazy standards. Improving self esteem should start with an assessment of expectations.
Some questions to ponder:
- What are you really trying to achieve?
- Why is it so important?
- What about your other values? How well balanced is your perspective?
- Who are you trying to prove yourself to: your boss, father, mother, spouse?
Beware the Tyranny of The Shoulds - the enemy of self esteem.
- be earning much more money
- be the best provider for my family in the world
- be at the very top of my profession
- get all my work done on time always
- never make any mistakes...ever
- always make the right decisions
- always know exactly what to do
- always feel enthusiastic and energetic
- always win all my arguments with everyone
- always be on top of everything
What can you do about it?
- You no doubt have other Shoulds to beat yourself with
- But who says you have to be perfect? Or inhumanly invulnerable?
- Can you live up to your Shoulds AND maintain perspective
- Having excessively high standards is a no-win situation with you as the number one loser
- Unachievable standards = low self esteem = pushing yourself even harder
- Exerting even more effort and still failing = even lower self esteem
- Hence you are caught in a self-defeating vicious circle
See also Low Self Esteem, try our Self Esteem Quiz and the follow up page: Boost Your Self Esteem. Also, read self esteem stories of others.