Whose standards are they anyway?

Many of us have lives dictated by rules telling us what we should be doing. Unconsciously, our inner demands flash through our minds as we struggle to live up to our own expectations about how the world should be. In so doing, we rob ourselves of freedom and choice, and we create unnecessary feelings of guilt or shame for falling short.

Some inner demands are necessary. They make up your value system - values like telling the truth, not stealing and not hurting other people. But other “shoulds and musts” create unneeded conflict such as the house must always be clean or I must never be late.

Think about it. Do you ever say to yourself things like “I can’t take a risk”, “I must lose weight”, “I should go to the gym”. Sounds familiar? We all have a set of self-imposed rules that we first learned from our parents, teachers, role models and peers who taught us what life requires. These became unconscious to us but have formed beliefs that dictate the way we behave.
In extreme cases, a person’s failure to live up to their own standards can set them on a downward spiral to lost self esteem, unhappiness and depression. 

Look at the size zero trend today. Whilst external pressure is huge and the media and fashion industry have been named the “big bad boys”, it is in fact the girls themselves who have lost control of their priorities, giving in to the external pressures and their inner demands. Have you ever truly seen a fulfilled and happy size zero girl as she chomps on her lettuce, whilst sipping water?

The first step to changing your inner demands is to be aware of them.  Take some time to write a list of the demands you place on yourself, and then make a conscious decision as to which ones you will keep and which ones you will abandon.

Next, listen out for yourself saying things such as SHOULD, MUST, OUGHT TO, HAVE TO, then give yourself time to ask why? 

Finally, give yourself the freedom to fail, to be less than perfect and a bit unsure.  Once you cut yourself some slack, you open yourself up to the possibility of becoming a person who doesn't know how things have to be and can begin to be relaxed about letting things be as they are.

I am now off to eat a chocolate bar, by choice – and I am going to enjoy it!

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