Living with the Unrelenting Standard by Kati Gilmore

Living with the Unrelenting Standard by Kati Gilmore We live in a culture today where success and security go hand in hand.  If you work harder, you will be more valuable.  We come to believe that if we don’t settle and actively strive for more, we will achieve greatness and our lives with be worthwhile.  […]

Living with the Unrelenting Standard by Kati Gilmore

We live in a culture today where success and security go hand in hand.  If you work harder, you will be more valuable.  We come to believe that if we don’t settle and actively strive for more, we will achieve greatness and our lives with be worthwhile.  Unfortunately, that ideology has created a silent phenomenon that is bred by society and expectation.  It is known as the unrelenting standard. The unrelenting standard can be applied to any aspect of life, and can be more prominent in one aspect as opposed to another.  Some common areas that people experience an unrelenting standard are relationships, work, athletics, academics, competition, health and finances.

Derived from schema therapy, the unrelenting standard is an internal conflict that an individual experiences.  This conflict often causes them to strive for the highest of goals, set standards out of reach, pressure themselves into success, demand perfection and never allow anything close to failure to be a reality.  In layman’s terms, the unrelenting standard puts a person in a position to raise the bar every time a goal is met or something positive has been achieved.

Is it really so bad to have an high standards and strive to achieve them?  The short answer is no, but the problems that can come from an unrelenting standard that is not well balanced can be serious.  Often times, the unrelenting standard can cause depression due to feeling inadequate or empty.  If your achievements are never celebrated, recognized or accepted, it would be very easy to fall into depression. Anxiety can begin to take hold for fear of complacency.  Sometimes the unrelenting standard is a response to our fear of becoming stagnant in life, and so we chase the bar and have pervasive worries that it is not good enough. Perhaps the most debilitating problem with the unrelenting standard is that one day, you take time to evaluate yourself and you come to the conclusion that you have been missing out on life.  You realize the cycle of the pursuit, and that keeping your eye on the prize has actually come at a cost.

Part of understanding the unrelenting standard and its impact is evaluating why it motivates us.  There are times in life when out of sheer survival, we must adapt to strive and achieve to pull out of the current dilemma.  Other times, we feel the inherent need to seek approval from others or we feel unworthy and this is a way to take control over personal worth.  Sometimes we have a will to prove others wrong when we feel victimized by criticism.
Whatever the reason, it is helpful to uncover, evaluate and challenge the feelings and behaviors related to the unrelenting standard that could cause problems for us in everyday living.  Discovery and insight can be gained in therapy and is encouraged if you can relate to the paradigm of the unrelenting standard.