Are you feeling under pressure? Are you always critical of yourself? Are you a perfectionist and often feel anxious? If this sounds familiar you might need some support through individual counselling.

A common underlying cause of anxiety is hyper-criticalness, or having unrelenting standards of oneself. People who have unrealistically high personal standards are always striving to meet particular goals or expectations in an attempt to avoid painful self-critical thoughts, expected criticism from others, and feelings of dread, shame or disapproval. The desire to strive for perfection or meet very high standards is common amongst successful people, however, when this drive is excessive or inflexible, there can also be a negative flip side. Common negative outcomes of unrelenting standards include:

  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • A feeling of being under pressure or in a rush
  • Feeling like you have to be perfect
  • Being unable to wind down or switch off
  • Always focusing on work or achieving with no space for down time
  • Prioritizing achievement above relationships or self-care
  • Being inflexible with routines and finding it hard to let go
  • Always following rigid rules
  • Being preoccupied with results and time
  • Setting goals but never feeling satisfied when you reach them
  • An absence of pleasure or joy
  • Having low self-esteem, or self-esteem tied to your performance in certain areas such as work/achievement/appearance
  • Being critical of self and others
  • Feeling like there is never enough time
  • Feeling irritated or agitated much of the time

If you you have unrelenting standards you may find it hard to relax, you might always be “on the go”, or working hard to achieve your next life goal. Perhaps you have found your sense of worth being tied up with what you “do”, rather than who are inside. It is common for people with this set of beliefs to feel loved or admired only for for their achievements, rather than for their innate characteristics. You may need to be constantly striving in every aspect of your life just to feel OK. Perhaps you hide deeper feelings of shame, or a fear that if you are not succeeding, then you will not be loved or accepted by those important to you. If you relate to this feeling, your relationships may be suffering because you work so hard. You are probably successful in your chosen field, yet also feel empty, exhausted, or under immense pressure a lot of the time. Over a prolonged period of time, people with unrelenting standards are prone to stress-related health conditions.

Often these beliefs and subsequent behaviours stem from early experiences such as growing up with a critical parent, or a parent who focused too much on achievements and gave little praise. Counselling can assist with understanding what drives you, reducing anxiety and stress, and reconnecting you with what really matters in your life.

If you want to talk to a counsellor or are seeking more information, please contact us at Mindwell Psychology today and make an appointment.