Signs You're Living By Someone Else's Standards

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As a lifelong Type A personality (I own up to it), I am no stranger to impossible standards — I've always set them for myself. It's really pretty silly when you think about it, as I'm setting myself up for disappoint. You know what is even sillier, though? Holding yourself to the impossible standards of someone else, real or imagined. There are signs you're holding yourself to someone else's standards, and I recently realized I can tick basically all the boxes. Sheesh, me... cut yourself some slack, right? Life is hard enough without any added pressure. That's why we're talking about it, though. It's never easy to admit our shortcomings, but the hope in doing so is that we will grow in our self-love and understanding.

It goes without saying that there is nothing wrong with having high standards or wanting to impress people in your life. We all want to make the ones we love proud at some point — it's a natural inclination. The issues arise when our perception of doing well gets tangled up in unrealistic expectations or causes us to sacrifice what makes us healthy and happy to do what we believe will be pleasing to others.

If you are holding yourself to someone else's standards, you probably already suspect so. But if you need a bit of help homing in on some of the signs, here's a briefer.

Someone Else's Success Makes You Feel Inadequate

I have this family member who is close in age to me, and I adore her. I want her to be happy. But when she bought a house that is much larger and much nicer than mine, it made me feel... less than. It made me feel inferior. She didn't make me feel inferior. She didn't do anything at all but live her life. I was the one stacking myself up to her and deciding I came up short. But as the saying goes, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." If you stop the next time you're feeling inferior and consider the situation, you'll likely find that true for you, too.

You Find Yourself Qualifying Your Life

This is often my modus operandi when I run into someone I haven't seen in a while. The conversation naturally veers toward what we've both been up to lately, at which point I begin to qualify all of your perceived shortcomings in life. "We're doing this, until this other thing happens." "We decided to buy a smaller home because we like having less to clean." "We put things on hold for a while to start a family." And so on and so forth. Only, the person I'm talking to didn't ask me to explain any of my decisions. But I don't actually have to (and neither do you.)

You're Constantly Worried About Disappointing Someone

Worry is a constant for some people, including myself. Am I letting my loved ones down? Does my mom wish I'd done more with my life? Will my kids be proud of me come career day at school? Life is a never ending parade of potential disappointments. Of course, the reality is the people who love you only want you to be happy — and constantly living in fear of disappointing them doesn't help accomplish that.

Second-Guessing Yourself Is Second Nature

We are all given to self-doubt from time to time, but it doesn't have to be the default response to, well, everything. Confidence is important for mental well-being, and nothing kills confidence faster than second-guessing yourself. After all, there are plenty of people in the world who will doubt you because that's just the way people are; how can you fend off their skepticism if you don't believe in yourself? A huge reason we do this to ourselves is because our lives don't look like someone else's, and that is seriously flawed logic.

You Use Other People's Accomplishments As Milestones

Have you ever played the "When I" game with yourself? You know the one — it's where you don't give yourself credit for your own accomplishments because they don't align with someone else's. "When I have a [insert object or accomplishment here] like [insert name of person], I'll be happy," or "I'll stop working so hard." Measuring your life out by someone else's ruler doesn't work, though, because you aren't that person. Your life will look different by design, and that's not only OK, it's terrific. We're all our own people.

You Don't Have Time For R&R

Put down whatever you're doing and think about this in earnest for a moment: When was the last time you went on vacation? If your answer is more than two years, forget about whatever it was you were doing and go enjoy some "me" time. You deserve it! You've probably been so busy working you butt off to live up to someone else's standards that you haven't taken any time to actually enjoy what you do have. It's time to make time for yourself, my friend. Your life is beautiful.

Social Media Steers Your Self-Judgment

Even though we should all know by now that there is a major disconnect between what we see on social media and what the reality of the situation is, we still hold ourselves to the impossible and often far too unrealistic expectations set forth by the perfect smiling faces on our feeds. I'm terribly guilty of it myself, so I know how unhealthy it can be to look at the picture-perfect people online and rule myself a failure in comparison.

You Always Downplay Praise

This isn't just your typical self-deprecation. Rather, what I'm talking about is the genuine inability to accept flattery because you have trouble believing what is being said. Or, equally bad, you don't think you deserve the accolades because you feel someone else is more worthy. Chin up, pal — there's a reason you're getting praised, so sit back and enjoy it.

Validation Motivates You

It's a strange dichotomy: On the one hand, it makes you uncomfortable to get praised; on the other, though, you need that external validation to make you feel good about yourself. And while enjoying flattery is perfectly fine, problems can arise if you always need validation to motivate you. This implies you feel like someone else's standards are more acceptable than yours.

You Lack A Sense Of Fulfillment

Do you ever get a nagging feeling you're just not doing what you are supposed to be doing? Maybe it's a general sense of malaise. Either way, the reason you probably feel that way is because you aren't doing the job you love, you're doing the job you feel people expect you to do. Or assuming whatever role it is people expect you to assume. True fulfillment and happiness, though, comes from within — and that glow within comes from knowing you are living your life in the manner that feels more organic to you... not anyone else.

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