Self-demands: How ‘shoulds’ Can Give Way To Anxiety

Self-demands and anxiety

Our self-esteem is almost never static; It always exists in a tension between what we are and what we should be. This is something totally natural and even positive; In fact, it is a good part of what makes us able to feel motivated by many of the things that life offers us.

However, when we “get out of hand” with these self-demands, the most common thing is that we develop emotional problems or even stop being able to move forward towards our goals.

In this article We will see how self-demands can negatively affect us when we do not manage them well.and how these types of situations lead to an increase in our anxiety level.

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When do self-demands become problems?

It is often said that what distinguishes us from other animals is our ability to reason from what we observe in our environment and produce thoughts at a high level of abstraction. However, this is debatable.

In fact, beyond this idealized vision of Homo sapiens like being able to think on your own, there is another somewhat more prosaic reality: If we are capable of thinking in such complex and nuanced ways, it is because we are capable of living integrated into societies of enormous size., which are relatively stable, and in which ideas constantly flow. And this implies that human existence is linked to the need to constantly follow a large number of rules, both written and unwritten, that make coexistence possible.

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This tendency to live immersed in social dynamics full of rules means that we do not even see them as something external to us; In many cases, we internalize these types of behavioral patterns, and when we value ourselves and shape our self-esteem, we do so in light of a series of self-demands: we compare our real “I” with the “I” that we should beaccording to our most fundamental beliefs and values.

Even if we have enough resources that we do not have to work very hard to achieve the most basic resources, in most cases we set moral standards for ourselves, lines that separate what is acceptable behavior and what is a unacceptable behavior, going beyond what is necessary to comply with the law. It seems that we limit ourselves in an unnecessary way, but that is not the case; It is part of our trend towards adopting a collaborative mindset. We want to be respected and accepted by the vast majority of people, including ourselves.

But carrying one demand after another is not a guarantee of being at peace with ourselves. Not only because there comes a point where the effort exhausts us; Furthermore, the fact of aspiring to meet overly ambitious requirements can be used to hide certain insecurities, and to neglect some aspects of our lives with the excuse of being “very focused” on becoming what in theory we care about becoming. This type of imbalance leads us directly to problems due to excess anxiety..

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Elements of self-demand that give rise to anxiety

These are the factors that can cause self-demands to give rise to an anxiety problem.

1. A self-esteem that is too anchored to social pressure

There are people who are only capable of valuing themselves to the extent that they are able to conform to a series of highly conventional stereotypes and expectations that society has imposed on their identity. This is also reflected in a lack of assertiveness when expressing what one thinks and wants for oneself.

A clear example of this is found in gender roles and their influence on many women, who, even having paid work, make an effort to carry out most of the household chores in order to avoid carrying the stigma of leaving the concept of “the feminine.”

Of course, it cannot be said that in these cases the problem is only in the way in which these people manage their emotions and their way of aspiring to be someone better; There are social dynamics that go beyond the individual and give rise to many “shoulds” that are too rigid.

Self-demands at work
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2. Self-demands used to avoid facing other problems

There are not rare cases of people who carry a large number of responsibilities in a certain area of ​​their life on their backs in order to not have to deal with other types of responsibilities. Although doing so means throwing time and effort into a bottomless pit (since they have no idea when they are sacrificing too much to achieve their goal), They feel that at least this brings order to their lives, by creating a routine on which all their attention is focused..

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3. Accumulation of self-demands to avoid adopting a strategic vision

This is a phenomenon that occurs especially in people with little experience in a type of work or project: they try to be constantly doing things, in a desperate way to try to compensate for your lack of judgment about what works and what doesn’t work. As time passes, the level of anxiety increases due to not seeing positive results.

4. Distrust of the idea of ​​delegating

Another source of anxiety through excessive self-demand appears in people who do not consider delegating tasks, because they systematically assume that not taking any such risk is part of their responsibility. It occurs especially in those who have developed a level of perfectionism that becomes dysfunctional.

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5. Belief that health is disconnected from performance

Finally, another way to suffer problems due to poor management of self-demands has to do with understand that our health and our responsibilities are two clearly separate elements. This type of way of thinking causes, for example, many people to sacrifice many hours of sleep a week in order to be able to handle more work.

Of course, this belief is wrong; In fact, our ability to concentrate is seriously affected within a few hours as soon as lack of sleep or excess stress begin to arise.

Pigeon King Cardona

Pigeon King Cardona

General Health Psychologist

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