When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough

Unrelenting Standards in Relationships: Your Best Will Never Be Good Enough

The bane of one’s existence can very easily come in the form of being in a relationship with someone who has unrelentingly high standards. Matters are made even worse when you do, too. Many unsuspecting people out there in the world live a quiet life of repressed anger and resentment (which often turns into passive aggression in relationships) because the bottom line is, no one gets things, or does things, the way they do them – the “right way.” To these folks, the glass is always not just half-empty, but dirty, and put away in the wrong spot by somebody else. And no matter what you do, or how you do it, or even who does it, it’s just never good enough

So what gives? Unrelenting high standards surface in three basic ways…

1. Perfectionism

2. Efficiency and/or Time

3. Rigidity

The perfectionist lives in constant criticism with surroundings, and as a result is highly anxious, fearful at the core, that some aspect of things will be out of place, and simply not perfect, and that he or she will somehow be responsible. The efficient individual lives life on a tight schedule, always mindful of being productive, on time, and managing things in the best way possible for everyone (at least in the eye of the beholder). Rigidity, on the other hand, is blatantly rule-oriented whether it comes to morals, ethics, religious beliefs, laws, company policies, traditions, etc.

As if one of these tendencies weren’t enough, the hypercritical, or those suffering from unrelentingly high standards, often live life with mixes of one or more of these themes, all running concurrently at the same time. Not only does the high standard holder seem like a neurotic mess, it makes neurotic messes of those people that have to share space with them, too.

Living daily life within the confines of seemingly ultra-ordered chaos can be enough to make a person want to poke out their eyes with sharp sticks, meaning the high standard holder and everyone around them are totally miserable most of the time. In psychology, unrelenting standards are considered a schema, and an early maladaptive coping mechanism. So in other words, those of us with these traits have had them a very long time, likely since early childhood. While they can be overcome, it’s not an easy feat.

When someone is sick and tired of being sick and tired of basically everything, the best place to start is within. Reflect on the tough areas—those that make us the most uncomfortable are the ones that need to be worked through first, on the path to peace of mind and well-being. Since this is a major undertaking, it’s important for one to find a supportive counselor, therapist, life coach, or all three, as the journey into self-discovery and healing begins. A few questions before you begin might include:

What is helpful to me about this behavior, and what hurts me?

Has this behavior served its original purpose, and if so, am I ready to release it today?

In continuing this behavior, what are the long-term consequences and/or benefits to it?

The core cause of unrelenting high standards is rooted in distorted ideas of self-worth. The individual that the “self” belongs to can only truly determine self-worth. Our innate value and place in life is not determined by a perfect home, wardrobe or appearance, by what great managerial skills we have, by how punctual we are, or even how loudly and often we speak the gospel of rules for each and every institution surrounding us in life. We are valuable and worthy just because, and to somehow feel we are not is a crime against the soul, the spirit, and the essence of who and what we are. Focusing our attention on the exterior and extraneous aspects of life is nothing more than a clever diversion from the truth, which is that we are boundless beings living in an infinite universe of possibilities, potentials and joy, all of which is within the reach of all.

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5 thoughts on “When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough

  1. marc from the uk

    Hello Psychic Giovanna, thank you for your thoughts and debate on this matter, you do make sense and I appreciate and understand your article more now. I enjoy this blog site and I am sure a lot of people are being informed and healed. 🙂

  2. Fiona x5178

    While it’s true that we all have our own answers within us–we can need some help getting to our personal Truth. It’s the implementation of our indwelling wisdom that leads us to success or failure. What happens in our relationships reflects the level of our self esteem–what we allow as okay, the way we deal with issues as they come up, and the psychological climate between couples all goes back to where our boundaries lie with regard to what’s okay, and what isn’t. We enter into relationships at the level of our self esteem. This includes jobs, personal growth, and life path. Rigidness is a relationship killer. The Universe itself was founded upon harmony and flexability. Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and suffering, and often spawn from the desire to have someone or something else fill up our longing for completeness. We cannot expect people to be more than who they are because we need them to be. It is our job to find happiness from within, not expect other people give it to us. The measure of our worth is not in labels or anywhere outside ourselves. Divine design requires us to go within and grow so that what we seek in the outer world finds its way to us when we are ready for it in our lives. Human ego wants it now. Spiritual truth says, “When you grow.” We must always go back to ourselves and know that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Just be who we are, grow, and when the heart is open that heart-light is the beacon attracting what is rightfully ours.

  3. Carrie

    I have just ended a relationship with someone who went from fun and entertaining and interesting to always crititzing evry areas of my life and finding fault with everything. If I woke up in the mornings in a gopod mood which I am a morning person., He would make it a point to say something hurtful! I could do nothing right I was always wrong etc. etc.
    I just hurt to much to contuine with some one I loved. He couldn’t understand why I don’t want to be with him anymore and when I tried to explain it to him he called it Constructive Crititism. I asked him why did I need to be Criticzied. He had no answer. So I am sad and alone and now I have to get my self-esteem back. Ladies Please don’t put up with this as long as I have. The road back to yourself is hard!

  4. Psychic Giovanna x5214

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for responding! Tidy, methodical, or routine-oriented living is not meant to be taken in the same context as perfectionist tendencies, such as addressed here. In fact, I agree totally that anyone (and most of us do), can have self-worth issues, regardless of how they might manifest. Perfectionist tendencies and unrelenting standards are those in which interfere with daily living, and therefore, do not make it more enjoyable. Structure and discipline. however, are qualities that, within moderation, can serve to improve and/or enhance anyone’s day-to-day living; thanks for pointing that out! =)

  5. Marc from the UK

    Ooops! I like to be tidy, and methodical, also to have things in place. I see this as good routine and helpfull if things are easy to find or locate. We all need order in our lives, we are quick to judge a bus if its dirty, or running late, let’s say we are in an untidy shop, do we buy? or simply walk? So why is this deemed an illnes or controlling if we do it in our personal lives? I know people who lack self worth and are very untidy, I tell them to start valueing themselve’s by looking after themselve’s first. I trace my tidynes back to my parents who where in the armed forces, where hygiene, tidyness,and disciplin is paramount to effectiveness as an individual and a team. I am aware though that mine started as a form of me taking control of my life when it all went wrong, so it gave me as a child some sense of controlling my awfull environments that played out for a few years, I could of lost control, gave up, took drugs, get into gang mentallity and be a bad person, but I did not, I chose to be stubborn and get through this without quitting and seeking a happy solution. So In all I find this article is right in someways but dismissive of the whole spectrum of why some of us are TIDY!!


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