Today I had a discussion with my therapist (yes, I have a therapist) about standards.

There is a part of me that has learned that the bar should be a certain height for it to be worthy, valuable and noteworthy. That bar has evolved into an intricate system of standards that needs to be upheld. Standards that say how certain things are supposed to be done (by me), by when they are supposed to be accomplished and why I am doing them at all. Obviously, when one of those three elements of such a standard changes or cannot be upheld, the whole system feels collapsing. That system requires that people around me function in a similar way, ie with similarly high bars or my level cannot be reached.

It doesn’t feel very manageable or healthy, does it? Which is why I have a therapist… 

Now, there are certain standards that were defined at one point in time. One meter is 100 centimetres. Six Sigma. The moral rule ‘thou shalt not kill’. A computer program that is industry standard.

Others are of my own fabrication. How often I should call my parents. How well my kids should do in school. How things should be arranged in a cupboard for (my) optimal efficiency. What I consider to be a good employee, friend, lover. How creatively things should be done.

Since I am a creative person, and creative people like to colour outside the lines, things can get a little out of hand sometimes. I know that. Which is why I have a like structure, rules and regulations and terms and conditions. 

Which is why I have standards. 

They make things clear.

They show the lines within which the society I grew up in expects me to colour.

Therapy has taught me however, that whatever coping mechanisms we came up with as kids, sometimes need to be re-evaluated or even questioned (see, I told you therapy was useful).

Life is not a static image with defined lines that never change. Life is messy. People are diverse. And standards for living need to be re-visited, discussed and, like any software program, updated.

If you are now expecting a ‘standard solution’, I have none. After all, I am still in therapy.

The only thing I can tell you is that, awareness is the beginning of change.

I am aware of my standards and of a default setting of often imposing them on others because they mean worth, value and safety to me.

So next time I expect you to colour outside the lines, gently point my nose to this article.