I got a confession. Well, actually it’s one of my goals this year. As a newly divorced single mother, I have been intentionally building my ‘chosen family’ of supportive, interesting, fun and smart women because I had lost my community after my marriage dissolved. If you are over the age of 21, you know how challenging it can be to develop and nurture long term, sustainable friendships with mature individuals. It is especially challenging, in these post-pandemic times when most social activities are online or relegated to social apps. So, I am grateful for the expanding community I am developing with love, non-judgment and intentionality.
The other day I met with two of my new besties. One is a savvy, hilarious, gorgeous, divorced Mom of three and new to my area. The other is a brilliant, introverted, Mom of one with striking good looks and a quick wit. My savvy friend chided my brilliant friend about the importance of raising her ‘standards’ to weed out some of the ‘dead-weight’ or toxic people still taking up space in her life.
Here’s the problem. Many of us absorb our standards. We don’t really intensely think about them nor agonize over them. In fact, in many cases, it would seem like we just blindly or mindlessly absorb them.
We live our lives oblivious to the standards we hold ourselves to. We join groups. We meet new people. People we know, love, and trust say things and we end up absorbing these standards. Oftentimes, these seem so comforting and so reassuring that they are natural to us. They seem to fit our conception of ourselves and our personalities. What we’re doing is filtering out standards that challenge us and push us up and out. Instead, we just corroborate or validate the things we think we already know about ourselves.
Now, it would be great if these standards always worked for us. It would be great if they always pushed us up and out. But that’s not the case. Often times, we hold ourselves to impossible standards that end up discouraging us or inherited standards that no longer serve us.
Soon enough, if this drags on for a long enough time, it ends up depressing us. And the worst part is that we think that this is just natural. We think that’s just the way it goes. That’s how the cookie crumbles because standards are standards.
Well, they’re not.
We should understand that we always have a choice as to the kind of standards we choose to live our lives by — it’s always a choice.
Believe it or not, the standards that you might currently have now were not mindlessly absorbed by some sort of magical process. It’s not as if they just dropped in your lap and you had no choice in the matter.
You always have a choice. The fact that you’re retaining these standards is a choice in of itself. It’s all a choice.
Accordingly, we should choose your standards consciously. Do they reflect our values? Do they speak to our better angels? Do they lead us to where you wish to go in life?
Have you and I thought about where we wish to go in life?
These are the big questions that my friends and I discussing during an enlightening and empowering lunch. I am sharing them with you because these are the type of questions we need to grapple with so we can have a clear understanding of what our standards should be to live our best lives.
The lesson: shape your standards to work for you, instead of against you. Choose them carefully. Choose them so they truly reflect your interests and your values to serve you well.