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The Power of Standards: Where Have You Set The Bar?

"Too High," "Too Low," or "What Bar?"


Tips to help with your journey to thriving while living with chronic illness

As Seen On

Since you’ve found your way to my website and you’re reading this blog at all, I suspect that you’re looking to make some changes in your quality of life.  In many cases, that may mean evaluating and changing some of the standards you’ve set for yourself or that have been set for you.

Think about it: How do you see yourself, and how have you allowed yourself to treat yourself?  That will influence both the standards that you’ll set for yourself personally and the standards that you’ll tolerate for others in their interactions with you.  If your current quality of life isn’t working for you, it may be a sign that your current identity (how you see or think of yourself) and/or standards aren’t working for you, and you’re intuitively sensing the need to shift them.

The identity that you’ve set or accepted for yourself will affect what you’ve allowed yourself to Have, Do, and Be in this world.  A different identity (seeing yourself differently or believing different things about yourself)) inevitably leads to or even commands different standards.  When you change who you are, many of your results will change, too.

Your standards are entirely up to you.

So, let’s look at where you’ve set your bars…

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The “What Bar?” scenario 

If your response to the question “Where have you set the bar?” is “Huh? What bar?”, then maybe you’ve never really set your standards and could greatly benefit from doing so. The first thing that you’ll want to do is set a bar SOMEWHERE.  It’s important to set a baseline for what you’re willing to accept in life because otherwise you won’t get what you want in life, you’ll get what you’re willing to tolerate.

If you don’t set some standards, you’re likely to end up with little more than what you’ll tolerate. In addition, not knowing what you want in life is a major cause of getting stuck.

The “Too Low” scenario

Maybe you’re feeling that your standards have been too low and you probably need to raise the bar.  If you raise your standards, you can definitely enrich your life.  You see, your standards determine the lower level of what’s acceptable to you. They determine what the least is that you’re willing to accept in your life.  The problem with setting the bar too low is that you’re not likely to get more than that.

If your life is less than you’d like it to be, it’s possible that your standards are too low. The great thing, however, is that you can raise your standards at any time.

The “Too High” scenario

Perhaps you’ve got the bar set unreasonably high and you might actually need to lower it a bit. Think about the expectations and demands that you place on yourself. Do you feel a lot of stress or pressure, or do you beat up on yourself a lot about things that you’ve done or haven’t done? If so, you might be a perfectionist.

Perfectionism can really be a bugbear.  If you set or accept a bar that’s too high, you’ll constantly be frustrated and down on yourself, and you won’t give yourself proper credit for your accomplishments.  You’re also likely to sabotage yourself in taking action toward your goals because nothing will seem “ready” or “good enough” yet.  Perfectionism can be particularly hard and unfair to you if you’re imposing these same standards on yourself while living with limiting physical MS symptoms that are beyond your control.

Setting Your New Standards

In setting your bar, your most important standards actually deal with your own conduct. Making changes in this area will have the greatest impact because all aspects of your life are influenced.  This is true whether the bars you’re setting solely involve yourself and your personal actions or involve other people.

An effective way to do this is to see your new standards as a fundamental shift…a change in identity.  For example, see yourself and become “the person who does or believes (x,y, or z)” or

“the person who only accepts (x,y, or z) treatment.”  Ultimately, what you can achieve and how others see and treat you depends on how you see and treat yourself.

You’ll know when your new standards have taken hold because your behavior will change. If your behavior hasn’t changed or you’re still stuck, your standards haven’t changed enough.

Evaluate and Re-evaluate

The great thing about standards is that they’re change-able. We get to set them, and we get to change them.  Sometimes they start shifting before we’re totally conscious of it, and sometimes we purposefully change them with a put-your-foot-down decision.  Sometimes we find that we’ve lived too long with a set of standards that no longer fits or somehow just isn’t working for us, and we just need to change it—And that’s totally okay.

The beautiful thing is that we do have that option. We have the power and privilege to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate where we’ve set certain bars in our lives, and we GET to move them.

You have the right to thrive. You weren’t put on the planet to just exist and scrape by. Have a say in your own destiny.

So, how are your current identity and standards working for you? Think about where you’ve set them. What are the outcomes of those standards?  Do you feel like you need to make any changes? What would you have to believe about yourself to move your bar to a place that’s optimal for and kindest to you?

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Tips to help with your journey to thriving while living with chronic illness