Unrelenting standards: The good and the bad

Unrelenting standards: The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalised standards of behaviour and performance... Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hyper-criticalness toward oneself.

I have battled with extreme hyper-criticalness and perfectionism for years, and still do. You often hear "perfectionism" thrown around as a good trait to have. That it means you're ambitious, organised and disciplined. While they are all good characteristics to possess there is also the other side of perfectionism. The unrelenting standards and extreme over-compensation.

In my experience there are both positive and negative aspects of unrelenting standards, here are my own perceptions.


  • AMBITION: As someone with perfectionism, I am extraordinarily ambitious. I will often take on multiple tasks (and meet them) within the same time frame. My own health and well being takes a back seat so that I can keep the fire burning to continue to "tick boxes" to reach my goals. My ambition and standards are always high, and for me the sky is the limit.
  • ORGANISED: As above, having unrelenting standards usually equals organised. I am so organised that I find myself organising those around me. I like to keep schedules (even on the weekend) and am conscious of time. The main positive of being organised is that I rarely miss important dates and I always have things done on time. Some would say I have an inordinate attention to detail.
  • EFFICIENT: I would like to think I am very efficient. There is nothing I dislike more than wasting time. Efficiency plays a huge role in both my personal and professional life. I try to find ways to streamline everyday tasks, eliminating needless steps.


  • NON-ACHIEVER: This is probably the hardest one for me. I know I have accomplished a lot in my short life, experienced hardship and overcome adversity - yet I don't believe it. I find it terribly hard to admit that I've done well, I've convinced myself that I haven't achieved something (anything) and I am never proud of my own accomplishments. I am more than happy to give others credit and praise - but would never do that for myself.
  • SELF DOUBT: This goes hand in hand with my inability to achieve. I guess I don't believe in myself. I tell myself negative thoughts so that I can continuously strive to be better - yet "better" will never be reached, it doesn't end.
  • BURN OUT: Another common trait of unrelenting standards. I like to visit (admitted via ER) the hospital about once or twice a year and by like, I mean forced. My body will shut down quite quickly, as I have ignored all the warning signs that I need to rest. My personality of perfectionism means that I don't need to rest - that I can always function. Which is rarely the case.

While being ambitious and focused are characteristics that we all need, there is also the downside of going too far. I am working on ways to manage my unrelenting standards with methods that allow me to (1) listen to my body and (2) be aware of when my reactions can be adjusted.

To say this is hard for me is an understatement, but I am grateful that I am at the very least, aware of how I am.

If you feel that your perfectionism has become overwhelming or that you can't take pleasure in your own achievements - please reach out.

There is a better way to live.