I have a questionnaire that I sometimes ask my clients to complete. It is based on Psychologist Jeffrey Young’s Schema Theory and I use it to uncover whether my clients have distorted ‘filters’ that are holding them back. I will probably cover Schema Theory in another post but I’ll explain briefly: We all see the world through our individual schemas or filters.
Our filters are influenced by our upbringings and how our parents treated us and attended to our needs as well as our past experiences. If we were bitten by a dog we may be fearful of dogs. If we were abused or treated unfairly as a child, we may expect mistrust and abuse from others. We all have ingrained filters that cloud our judgement and perceptions.
One of the filters that I have found 99% of my clients score highly on is “unrelenting standards”. This is the need to constantly be busy. People with unrelenting standards feel that they have to perform perfectly and cannot let things go. They are often Type A personalities and are extremely driven.
When we dig a little deeper, I often find that people feel this self induced pressure due to people and circumstances around them. They are also driven by ideals and unrelenting standards that often won’t make them happy. So, they spend a large part of their life working like a slave, never really stopping to check that they are on the right path and doing what they love.
This invariably leads to emptiness and a lack of happiness. I always ask why my clients feel the need to be achieving, earning money, climbing the career ladder. They will tell me they possess unrelenting standards due to a need to get to a place where they feel financially stable in order for them to be able to relax. A case of “I’ll be happy when…” It is a very misguided view of the world and I know this from experience.
It’s important to question WHY you have to do something. Why SHOULD you attend that function or earn over £100 000 per year? What are you trying to achieve? Will it really make you happy? I believe that underlying most people’s unrelenting standards lies social conditioning. It’s what everyone else is doing and it is expected. We forget what we want along the way and blend into the throng of workers working long hours and feeling rather empty.
Many people are waking up to realities of this forced way of life and are taking lower paid jobs in order to enjoy a better quality of life. Think about this saying “It is the man who gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and who has been able to exactly what he loves doing inbetween that is the rich man”. I see many high achievers with unrelenting standards who are the first ones in the office and the last ones to leave – if you look at their quality of life, it is rather poor yet they console themselves by thinking of all their riches in the bank. You can’t take it with you and I marvel at this odd attitude as I don’t believe it leads to personal fulfilment or satisfaction.
I can’t remember the number of times I have had a corporate client tell me how they have the house, the car and the beautiful wife yet still feel isolated and empty. That’s my point – they are chasing the wrong things hoping to find happiness. Searching in the wrong places will never provide happiness.
Take a health check on your life. Ask yourself “Where’s the rule book?” Who has set this rule in place? Am I living my life in a way that makes me feel fulfilled or am I chasing ideals that might appear in the future – effectively wishing away the present moment in favour of some possible achievement in the future?
It’s good to have goals but don’t allow them to dictate your whole life. Happiness often comes fleetingly when we are focused in the moment, enjoying simple things.
Reject the social conditioning of constantly wanting more, of constantly being busy. Forget what others are doing and get to the core of what makes you tick. Give up unrelenting standards in favour of savouring life.