Even if you don’t know exactly where to start, you will always know when you need to raise your standards.
Standards, boundaries, and mental health go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the others.
Your life is a direct reflection of the standards that you have for yourself and for other people. Most people who have impossibly high standards for others have very little for themselves. This used to be me. My intuition kept saying “raise your standards,” but I was frozen in my fears, triggers, and insecurities.
The scariest but most life-changing and rewarding thing you can do for yourself is to implement standards. This isn’t about “he/she has to make X amount of money” or look a certain way or whatever other superficial bs. Those aren’t standards. Those are conditions that rob your life of substance and meaning.
When you have real, substantial standards, the quality of your life will increase because you are finally able to ACT on the realization that your mental health is more important than:
- Your job.
- The expectations/hopes/dreams/plans that your family and friends have for you.
- Your relationships with them.
- Your romantic relationship.
- People pleasing.
No matter who they are or what it is, your mental health is more important than anyone or anything. Without it, you have nothing. However, raising your standards can be scary.
It’s scary to go no contact with someone that you still love and miss.
It’s scary to commit to non-reactivity.
It’s scary to block them.
It’s scary to let people live with the consequences of decisions that they chose to make.
It’s scary to experience the first symptom of standard setting which is loneliness.
It’s scary to ACT on “I will lose anyone and anything before I will lose my mind.”
But it’s worth it.
Prioritizing my mental health cost me friends I never thought I’d lose and family that I was convinced, would always be there.
And I’m not a failure for still missing them.
If prioritizing your mental health means disappointing them, then, by all means, disappoint them. You will finally stop being a disappointment to yourself and be able to reclaim this life as your own.
Before I get into the 10 things that happen when you raise your standards, I first want touch on setting standards for yourself, how to raise your standards in a relationship, and how to keep your standards high.
Setting standards for yourself and keeping your standards high
You can’t have relational standards until you have personal ones (and are able to keep those standards high). This all boils down to trying vs. committing. The secret to setting standards for yourself, raising your standards, and keeping your standards high is making a commitment to committing.
The biggest reason why people are commitment-phobic is that when you commit to something, you have to deliver. When you “try your best,” it’s okay if you don’t follow through because, well… at least you tried. You gave it your best shot.
There are no “best shots” when you commit.
When you are committed, you are all-in. Tunnel-vision. And you will see it through no matter what obstacles come into your path or how lonely that unbeaten path is.
- You commit to having your own back.
- You commit to not involving yourself in gossip, drama, fake friendships, and toxic relationships.
- You commit to acting on red flags because you are committed to no longer being a doormat.
When you are sick and tired of the wash-rinse repeat and are ready to make a lasting change, the first thing you need to do is raise your standards. When I stopped trying and actually committed to addressing my own toxicity… I became my own healer, champion, best friend, true love, and hero. I stopped looking for the world to pay me back and rescue me. I stopped being a victim because I was finally able to rescue myself.
Write down everything that you wish you could be and become. Then, write down everything that’s preventing this from actualizing.
Make a list of everything that you will no longer accept and tolerate. Take comfort in knowing that all of your pain and everything holding you back is nothing more than the result of decisions you have chosen to make.
How to raise your standards in a relationship
Raising your relational standards naturally happens when you raise your personal ones. Everything becomes so much easier and calmer. You no longer have to worry about what you’ll do if x,y, or z happens because you know what your non-negotiables are.
When you expect more from yourself, you won’t have to voice what you expect from your partner. They will either be able to reciprocate and give you all that you give or they won’t.
Either way, it will never have anything to do with you. Standards start within. No one can meet you at a relational standard that they aren’t first and foremost, meeting for themselves.
I used to think that having standards was all about other people. It was knowing what I would and would not put up with from “them.” Yet, I always ended up heartbroken, miserable, and dumped. The day that I took a look at myself and made a list of what I would no longer put up with internally… that was the day that I no longer had to voice what my standards were to anyone I was in a relationship with. Remember, you will never put up with being treated worse than you are already treating yourself.
10 things that happen when you raise your standards
- Loneliness. This is the number one symptom of standard-setting and it’s what discourages most people from committing. Just like when you do a detox and get flu-like symptoms, loneliness is the emotional flu-like symptom of standard-setting. Yes, it can be very lonely. And yes, there won’t be as many people that you connect with but the people that you do connect with… those connections will flush out the pseudo importance of quantity. And these relationships will fulfill you in ways that most people never get to experience. When you raise your standards, you begin to realize how many people lack personal standards (and you become that much more grateful and protective of your own). Here’s a conversation that a close friend and I had when I sent him parts of this post: HIM: “I really like ‘the first symptom of standard setting is loneliness.” ME: “The feeling of loneliness is the worst. It’s like life as you know it dumps you.” HIM: “Indeed. The upside: you know you’re in the right place.” ME: “Exactly. Isn’t it sad how we can lose friends and family by implementing standards and boundaries?” HIM: “It is. What it reveals is that so many of the people who ‘love’ us don’t know what that means. Love is acceptance, particularly of boundaries. When you lose someone because you make a decision for yourself, that person reveals that they’re more interested in controlling you than loving you.”
- Self-doubt. The loneliness will make you doubt whether raising your standards was a good idea. Those who can no longer manipulate you will crazy-label you. You’ll want to go back to the certainty of being that dutiful doormat but you won’t because you are now committed to your mental health.
- You attract people that you’re not usually attracted to. There’s no challenge and this bores you. This takes some getting used to. It takes time to learn how to be attracted to what’s good for us instead of what triggers us into becoming a performing circus animal. It takes time to enjoy your peace of mind instead of the yes/no, push/pull, hot/cold amateur hour chaos. But if you are committed, you will get there.
- Discomfort from the lack of codependency. You wouldn’t be able to recognize the need to raise your standards if you hadn’t been exposed to toxic people (who lack the very standards that you now know you need to raise). The toxicity became comfortable and now that you’ve done this master cleanse, you feel uncomfortable because you no longer need people to need you.
- Less drama.
- Increased self-respect. Your self-respect increases because you committed. You kept this promise to yourself and now, you’ve become more protective of your progress than you are desperate to hit the reactivity pipe.
- Self-compassion increases when you start to realize “I can’t believe I put up with that all sh*t.” Conversely, the compassion that you used to have for toxic people is no longer there.
- Unconditional confidence that no one can take away.
Keep going. You owe it to yourself to raise your standards.
Written by: Natasha Adamo