Unrelenting Standards / Hypercriticalness Schema

“I feel I have to meet very high standards to make sure no-one criticises me. As a result, I am very critical of myself. Some of the behaviours I display include perfectionism, following rigid rules, e.g. I have unrealistically high morals or I focus on time and efficiency (I feel like I always need to do more).”

Does this message resonate with you? You may have a schema known in schema therapy as the Unrelenting Standards schema.

Living with the Unrelenting Standards schema

Most days you tend to feel stressed.

You are stressed when you are at work, but even on the weekend, the stress will follow you home.

You work late, do your shopping at a fast pace, go to bed later than you planned and even in bed your thoughts about the past or coming days will cycle through your mind.

In childhood

If the Unrelenting Standards schema is active in your life, you may have experienced situations early in life that led to the development of this schema.

In your childhood you learned high performance was a must.

You may have missed pleasure and time to play with others.

Perhaps your parents were often at work, there was great pressure on your schoolwork (especially on results) or you learned to put yourself under pressure in an attempt to feel loved.

Boy developing the Unrelenting Standards schema from schema therapy

Ways in which you learned to react

There are three ways in which you often react when your Unrelenting Standards schema is activated.

  1. Surrender: You seem to put all your energy into your appearance and your performance. Even your very best seems not good enough.

  2. Avoidance: You are actually laid back in your life. It seems like nothing is really important to you. In this way you avoid opportunities to perform, so you cannot be criticised for the work you have done (internally or by others).

  3. Overcompensation: You act so casually in life that others don’t take your work seriously. They will think you don’t care about things, the stress you feel when attempting tasks remains hidden. Others will be unsure if they can count on you or not.
Man has developed the Unrelenting Standards schema from schema therapy

In adulthood

In your adult life you put yourself under a lot of pressure most of the time.

Deadlines at work have to be met, the house has to look perfect and the presents you buy for others must be really special.

Because you are used to such a high standard of performance, you don’t accept less of yourself.

This can even put pressure on the people around you.

Healing the Unrelenting Standards schema

In schema therapy we help you to understand the basic needs a child should have met by important people in their life.

It is important to learn how to achieve your best.

Along with that you need to reduce your standards.

There has to be time for both pleasure and play.

A body and mind in intense stress will give rise to symptoms, such as sleeping problems, anxiety or feelings of depression.

Achieving your best in balance with restoring your energy will give rise to more joy and play in your life and your relationships.

How Secure Nest can help

Secure Nest provides a self-education program that can be used standalone or alongside therapy to help you identify which schemas are most prevalent in your life and what the process of change is.

We provide personalised tools, which include a mindfulness recording for the Unrelenting Standards schema.

Start your free trial, complete the assessment at the start of the self-education program and then visit the library to access the recording for the Unrelenting Standards schema.