what does it mean when you have high standards for others but not yourself

What does it mean when you have high standards for others but not yourself?

In the fascinating world of human behavior, a peculiar dichotomy often emerges – the phenomenon of holding high standards for others while maintaining relatively low expectations for oneself. This paradox is not only contradictory but also capable of affecting relationships, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Through this article, we shall explore this paradoxical behavior, its origins, implications, and possible solutions.

The Paradox of Expectations

Understanding the Discrepancy between Standards for Others and Self

Standards are an integral part of human life. They define our expectations, influence our judgments, and guide our actions. They’re like invisible yardsticks that we use to measure the world around us. A discrepancy often arises when these yardsticks become disproportionate, such as when we set high standards for others and low standards for ourselves. This could manifest in numerous ways – from expecting more from a partner than we do from ourselves, to placing excessive demands on colleagues while procrastinating on our tasks.

A common example can be seen in the professional sphere. Imagine a supervisor who demands absolute punctuality from his employees, but is frequently late to meetings himself. Here, the supervisor’s high expectations for his subordinates sharply contrast with his relaxed attitude towards his behavior. This discrepancy highlights the paradox of expectations – the situation where one’s standards for others do not align with those for oneself.

Illustrating Examples

Let’s delve deeper into the paradox with another example – the realm of interpersonal relationships. It is not uncommon to find people who seek a considerate, empathetic, and supportive partner, but seldom display these qualities themselves. They often justify this discrepancy by attributing it to their personality, circumstances, or past experiences. However, such justifications do not negate the fundamental inequality in the standards set for others and self.

Similarly, in parenting, some parents might expect their children to be top performers in every aspect, from academics to extracurricular activities, but do not push themselves to be role models or foster a nurturing environment. Here again, the paradox of expectations surfaces, showing a clear contrast between what is demanded of others and what is expected of oneself.

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Psychology Behind the Double Standards

Examination of Self-perception

The root of this paradoxical behavior often lies in one’s self-perception. How we see ourselves significantly influences how we perceive and interact with others. People with skewed self-perception may undervalue their abilities, underestimate their potential, and consequently, set lower standards for themselves. However, when it comes to others, they might idealize them or overestimate their capacities, thereby imposing higher standards on them.

Role of Self-esteem and Self-worth

Self-esteem and self-worth play crucial roles in this dichotomy of standards. Low self-esteem often corresponds to lower standards for oneself. It can make individuals believe they do not deserve better, leading them to accept less in their lives. On the other hand, they might perceive others as more capable or deserving, and hence, expect more from them.

Influence of Upbringing and Environment

Our upbringing and environment significantly shape our standards. Individuals raised in environments where high standards were continually enforced on others but not on themselves may naturally develop this discrepancy in expectations. They might have internalized the belief that they are not expected to perform at the same level as others, leading to a dichotomy in their standards.

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Implications and Consequences

Impact on Personal Relationships

This dichotomy of standards can significantly strain personal relationships. When one person persistently expects more from others while delivering less, it can lead to feelings of resentment, mistrust, and dissatisfaction. Over time, it can create emotional distance and may even result in the relationship’s breakdown.

Impact on Professional Relationships

In a professional setting, unequal standards can create a toxic work environment. Employees might feel overburdened, undervalued, and stressed. This could lower their morale, productivity, and job satisfaction, leading to higher turnover rates and reduced organizational effectiveness.

Potential Repercussions for Mental Health

The dichotomy in standards can also have psychological repercussions. Holding oneself to lower standards can perpetuate feelings of unworthiness, while expecting too much from others can lead to continuous disappointment. Over time, this could potentially contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

what does it mean when you have high standards for others but not yourself

Ways to Achieve Balanced Standards

The Importance of Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the first step towards balancing our standards. Recognizing the discrepancy in our expectations for others and ourselves is critical. Regular self-reflection can help us identify patterns in our behavior, understand our motivations, and become more aware of our biases.

Strategies for Cultivating Realistic Expectations

Once we are aware of the discrepancy, the next step is to cultivate realistic expectations. This can be achieved by setting achievable goals for ourselves, recognizing our abilities, and appreciating our worth. Similarly, we should try to understand the capabilities and limitations of others and adjust our expectations accordingly.

Necessity of Self-love and Self-acceptance

Accepting ourselves, with all our flaws and strengths, is essential for developing balanced standards. Self-love and self-acceptance can help us set appropriate expectations for ourselves, understand our value, and respect our limitations. This can, in turn, enable us to be more empathetic towards others and maintain a balance in our standards.


The dichotomy of holding high standards for others while setting low expectations for oneself is a complex psychological phenomenon with wide-ranging implications. As we have explored in this article, this paradox stems from various factors, including self-perception, self-esteem, and environmental influences. It impacts personal and professional relationships, and may also affect mental health. Understanding this dichotomy and striving for balanced standards through self-awareness, realistic expectations, and self-acceptance, is the key to healthier relationships and overall well-being. It’s a challenging but necessary journey that holds promise for personal growth and deeper connections with others.