It's important to acknowledge that sometimes the best decision for you or your loved ones may be to uphold the status quo and standards of the world. It is a privilege to notice and try to influence the measures of success in your life.
We all live by standards, known to us or not, and distinguishing the helpful from the harmful is not always easy.
The definition of standards is multifaceted, but here are the top two from Oxford Dictionary.
a level of quality or attainment."their restaurant offers a high standard of service"
an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations."the wages are low by today's standards" Synonyms: quality, worth, caliber, merit
It's easy to spot standards around beauty and how to perform in public spaces, especially school or the workplace. We feel uncomfortable not brushing our teeth, and we know we are expected to sit quietly in the class or meeting. We also know the direction from which the praise flows.
For many of us, those easy to spot standards are not so easy to access all of the time. So, if we hold a lifetime of stories that make us question our value and worthiness around these standards, what shot do we have at being high-caliber?
Those of us who are neurodivergent (ADHD, Autistic, Dyslexic, OCD, PTSD, etc.) can spend an exorbitant amount of time striving for excellence. Even when we reach it, we often don't slow down to acknowledge it. We move to the next mark of acceptance and competence. This becomes problematic as many neurodivergent folks already struggle with basic living, self-care, or completing the bare minimum of their workload.
Not only is it a recipe for burnout, but if we can't celebrate unless we are excellent, then we are going to feel bad... a lot.
The never-ending drive to do better and fix ourselves is not a growth mindset.
For many of us, the drive to strive is a trauma response resulting from various experiences with negative feedback and missed opportunities.
If only we had shown up earlier, remembered to call back, not said what we really thought... maybe we'd have the promotion, relationship, open door.
We dream of the illusive someday when we have our shit together and can manage our time, email, emotions, homes, and bodies in a way that is deemed excellent by the world.
Friends, this is a truly devastating way to live.
Neurodivergent folks remain particularly vulnerable to toxic standards of living. The fallout on our physical and mental health can be substantial.
I've never met someone with ADHD who has never suffered from anxiety or depression. I believe it's largely due to being labeled a misfit with the world.
Some may be thinking, "I did well in school. My family is nice. I have a decent career." In my experience, even those who are successful by the world's standards often struggle with imposter syndrome and performance anxiety. They have a relentless inner critic who keeps them overworking and exhausted.
You are valuable and worthy of care and love just because you're human.
Before we give our last ounce of self to the hamster wheel, let's get curious about why we're on it.
Who invited us or put us on it?
What are they getting out of us being on it?
How does it benefit us?
What else is possible?
We can gain control and freedom when we align our personal standards to our values rather than default to the factory settings.
What needs to change for you to align your values
to your measures of success?