Why you need personal standards and how to set them

personal standards
Photo by Call Me Fred on Unsplash

Personal standards are like boundaries that keep you safe. They let the good people in and keep the bad people out. Or at least the people who may not be best for you.

Personal standards tell people what you will and won’t tolerate. They establish who you are in the world and the types of people you want to connect with.

They come in very handy when you’re dating. That’s because they help you see red flags and avoid the future pain of getting mixed up with an unsavory character.

Personal standards come in very handy when you're dating. They help you see red flags and avoid future pain. Click To Tweet

You go into the date asking yourself if this person has the qualities you seek in a partner. You do not waste time trying to fit yourself into someone else’s idea of a relationship.

For example, you might have standards around how much notice you want before a date. You have deal breakers like he must not smoke or do drugs. He must be divorced and not merely separated.

It’s important to know your standards ahead of time so you’re not making them up on the fly. This makes it too easy to fall into patterns of agreeability, and start overlooking those warning signs that point you to safety.

The role of childhood trauma

If you grew up with childhood trauma, personal standards may not come naturally to you. You’re used to being agreeable and denying your needs in order to win love.

If you grew up with childhood trauma, personal standards may not come naturally to you. You're used to denying your needs in order to win love. Click To Tweet

Now you’re being asked to do the opposite and that can feel uncomfortable and even mean. And you never want to be mean.

You may be so used to abandoning yourself and favoring the needs of others, that it feels like home to you.

But it’s an abusive home that dismisses and sabotages you. It’s the home your parents gave you where their needs came first and yours got left in the dust.

It’s time to make a new home where you’re valued and worthy of love simply for who you are. Not what you can do for others or how accommodating you are.

Personal standards filter people out

When you set and apply your standards, some people will respect them and treat you accordingly. Others will argue and try to persuade you to betray yourself. This is a simple way to weed people out of your life who don’t belong there.

For existing relationships, standards ensure friends and family treat you the way you deserve. Or at least prevent you from tolerating terrible treatment.

When you have standards for the way people speak to you, you won’t sit there and let anyone berate you, for example. You’ll leave the room or hang up the phone. You’ll rest in the knowledge that you know who you are and what you’ll accept.

This is how personal standards improve your confidence and increase your esteem in other peoples’ eyes. There’s a stability to standards that feel like solid ground beneath your feet. Not like the shifting sands of weak boundaries.

Setting standards for yourself is part of the reparenting process. You’re giving yourself the love, kindness, and respect you missed earlier in life. It’s never too late to remember you deserve to have your needs met and decide how you want to be treated.

Chances are, if you have trouble setting boundaries, standards sound harsh to you. But it’s self-protection. And, it helps the other person as well.

Sometimes people fail to realize they’re behaving badly because no one has ever challenged them. You’re the one with enough courage to tell them the truth.

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