Originally Written: 01-Apr-2020
Word Count: ### / ## minutes
When you create a routine, schedule, plan, or checklist, what you are doing is creating a standard by which you are hoping to adhere to. You have potentiated an action into existence, but the execution of it remains to be seen as committed to.
Standards are something we all have, whether we think we do or not.
Life has key performance indicators that we all pocket in our minds and check on a routine basis in order to validate our feelings about the world. From our weight on the scale to the amounts in our accounts to the likes we earn, everyone has a number or two in mind that they use to assess how they’re doing.
Standards are what translate what are otherwise abstract concepts or actions into a language that can be understood by oneself and others. Paper money is a standard we have moved to over time from more traditional means of exchanging for perceived value of a good or service.
However, standards are also metaphorical obstacles to our own happiness when we race to achieve the same standards as everyone else. Standards are a guide to achieving what we want, but they are also poisonous to the minds when we forget what the intent of creating a standard is for in the first place.
Standards are not means for creating shortcuts to achieving what we think is success and happiness in life, they are what enable the outcomes we receive.
When you operate on a standard that is one based on compassion and warmth, the outcomes you get in life will be in response to the way you are interfacing with it.
When you operate on a standard that is more results driven toward an end state of feeling rather a focus on self, what happens is your standards change.
This is why learning your standards is important not only for knowing when you’re entering situations you don’t want to be in, but also to mindfully enforce boundaries once they have been crossed.
Standards are something we learn from the caregivers we have while growing up. The standards they follow represent a snapshot of the world of their upbringings, which means the standards you learn will eventually become outdated to the times you are progressing into.
Standards are something we must change over time in order to adjust to life’s ever-changing conditions for survival and socialization. You can’t rely on old tricks to make it through new moments and sometimes you’re going to fall flat on your face.
My standards have always been to learn what standards and other person operates by and to apply myself to that person’s experience in order to learn their perspective and to also ensure I do not offend or belittle them. It is my desire in life to avoid creating friction, but that is because of a standard I am trying to unlearn that tells you that your sense of agency is less important than creating a scene to remark at.
What standards you observe will show when you create friction to the flow of life and they may show you to be a person with high standards for the wrong things. Wrong things meaning key performance indicators in life that will not lead to sustained satisfaction.
If we value something, we will construct standards around it in order to maintain what value it gives to us. When you have a job you like, you make develop increasing habits around enabling your success when going into work, such as preparing your clothes and lunch the night beforehand and waking up early.
When you value something too much, you construct unsustainable standards around it in order to squeeze every drop of satisfaction it can give you. Too much also implies it is something you are compromising other elements of your life for, especially the basics of self-care. This is called an obsession. Obsessions are dangerous, especially when you think you’re just doing what you think would be best to optimize your experience. What you end up doing is sterilizing it to the point that your life is about maintaining your standards of feeling instead of having your standards maintain the way you feel.
Standards are great to have but can be dangerous. Having a lot of standards for how you live will mean there are more levers to pull when you want to feel happy. However, the consequence to this is having to meet the expectations that come with all the standards we want to live by. Having fewer standards limits our focus on satisfying what is minimally essential for us to feel happy, but what standards we choose to focus on may invariably throw us off course if they are not sustainable choices.
Your salary or net income will not always be the same. Your relationship status will not always be the same. Your social relevance will not always be the same. The way you look will definitely not always be the same.
Relying on such factors in life to pick yourself up is having a standard that exists outside of yourself that plays a determining factor in how you feel for the day.
This is why cultivating new standards is not only important, but essential. Standards are the garden boxes through which we grow our next ideas. The garden’s of our mind the cultivate our next thoughts are only so big. When we have multiple standards to achieve, we have various kinds of plants to tend to with different needs. When we have one big plot of land to work with, then the way we tend to our minds can be more consistent. It may not be as pretty a garden, but if the standards you have yield the vegetables you need in life then they are standards that enable you to do other things than maintain them. A garden of lush roses and other pretty matters of appeal are for those wanting attention for something they are frankly putting too much effort in, but what doesn’t sustain itself will lead to failure.
I guess what I do with my mind’s garden is I have many standards by which I try to appease, but I also leave a large plot of land for others where it should frankly be more allocated for myself. When a new person enters my life, I seem to use such plots in my mind to plant plants they like in hopes of showing my mind to be familiar enough for them to want to peruse the rest of. But sometimes I maintain some pretty ugly weeds and plants when I’m not practicing mindfulness enough and it can be a pretty disgusting walk.
The garden I keep is too big. The ideas I am trying to hold onto are too grand. They are also kept hidden from others because I don’t want to show myself for my complexes.
But when you have a standard around hiding your complexes, all you show yourself to have is a complex with your complexes and a standard that is not achievable at best.
Sometimes I just need to breathe when I’m looking at the messes I am creating and start with something instead of bemoaning what I’ve created for myself.
The weeds in your mind will keep growing whether you cry about the fact that they are there or not. So why not cry through tending to them so you can at least multitask?
I suppose this essay was about OCD and what it feels like for me.
It fucks up so many social interactions with people that I double down on myself and wonder what’s the point of bothering sometimes with people when I’m not given the chance to show myself on my own time and terms.
I get anxious about my next words, my current word, my last word. I wonder how I’m coming off to someone, I disable myself in my own self-evaluations that I fail to even do anything worth evaluating.
My belief is because the standards I maintain are so entangled with each other and contradictory that it makes it impossible for my thoughts to get out of the house and into the front yard at times in time to catch the bus when I’m in a conversation.
The idea of what is perfect is relative to the individual. The best response to what someone says in an open discussion is not an answer like one would have to provide on a test. Providing answers is easy because it requires diving into knowledge. Talking about yourself is hard because it requires diving into yourself. But when it’s frankly too easy at times to be triggered into thinking about the wrong things, I start to not trust myself for my words.
Perhaps this is why I enjoy writing so much. There’s a chance to edit. Or at least get one’s thoughts together without the pressure of being expected to say something mind-blowingly funny or awesome to hear.
Back on point, standards are what we choose to live by that maintain our current experience of life, but don’t make your life about maintaining your standards, especially those that show themselves to be outdated.
It’s not fun uprooting entire portions of our minds and it sometimes takes addressing some seriously rooted weeds in the form of issues and trauma. However, if your standard is to have a garden that is working for you, then you know it will be something that has to be addressed at some point. Why not now?
Decluttering in our lives is what gives way for something new. You can’t make room for something different and better than what you currently have if you don’t change your standards for what you think is different and better.