The next time you talk to people you know, ask them about their standards. Most people will tell you their standards because most people have them. They might not be able to articulate them. They might have a hard time putting their finger on it, but you can tell by their behavior, what they choose to talk about, and what they choose to avoid, that they do have standards.
Here’s the problem. A lot of us absorb our standards. We didn’t really intensely think about them. We definitely did not agonize over them. In fact, in many cases, it would seem like we just blindly or mindlessly absorb them.
We live our lives oblivious to the standards we hold ourselves to. We join groups. We meet new people. People we know, love, and trust say things. And we end up absorbing these standards. Oftentimes, these seem so comforting and so reassuring that they are ‘natural’ to us. They seem to fit our conception of ourselves and our personalities. What we’re doing is filtering out standards that challenge us and push us up and out. Instead, we just corroborate or validate the things we think we already ‘know’ about ourselves.
Now, it would be great if these standards always worked for us. It would be great if they always pushed us up and out. But that’s not the case. Often times, we hold ourselves to impossible standards that end up discouraging us. Soon enough, if this drags on for a long enough time, it ends up depressing us. And the worst part is that we think that this is just natural. We think that’s just the way it goes. That’s how the cookie crumbles because standards are standards.
Well, they’re not. You have to understand that you always have a choice as to the kind of standards you choose to live your life by. It’s always a choice. Believe it or not, the standards that you currently have now were not mindlessly absorbed by some sort of magical process. It’s not as if they just dropped in your lap and you had no choice in the matter.
You always have a choice. The fact that you’re retaining these standards is a choice in of itself. It’s all a choice.
Accordingly, you should choose your standards consciously. Do they reflect your values? Do they speak to our better angels? Do they lead you to where you wish to go in life? Have you thought about where you wish to go in life?
These are the big questions that you need to grapple with so you can have a clear understanding of what your standards should be. Shape them to work for you, instead of against you.
Choose them carefully. Choose them so they truly reflect your interests and your values. Don’t for a second think that you’re just some sort of victim and that this just happened automatically and there’s really nothing you can do about it.
That’s not true. That’s a lie. You always have a say. The only questions are whether you realize this and whether you plan to make full use of it. You always have a choice.