“Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.” – Unknown

Most of the time, when we think about high standards in this context, we are referring to the bar we set for the people we allow into our lives. Namely, the people we call friends (and even family). However, isn’t it equally important for our friends and family to hold us to the same high standards? If you know a friend is headed in a negative direction or is engaging in behavior that you know doesn’t reflect her values, don’t you have an obligation to speak up? 

Should you be sorry for having standards, a thought or a concern?
I think you should be more sorry if you have a concern and you don’t speak up… you could be keeping her from forward progress, positive change or as Oprah would say, having an “Aha!” moment.
Where is the line between a loyal supporter and an enabler?
I had a friend once who was a “yes (wo)man” (for lack of a better word). You know, the kind of friend who only tells you what you want to hear?  There were times I would go to her in need of guidance, and I would tell her things I had done that I wasn’t proud of, mistakes I regretted or predicaments I was in… During these heartfelt conversations, she would make an excuse for me and sometimes she would go so far as to find blame in the other person involved. It was never my fault. My actions were always justified. At first I thought, “What a great friend!” In my eyes, she never judged me, and she always made me feel better by taking my side. No wonder I always felt better after talking to her! She made me feel validated in my decisions and actions even though I now realize they were wrong and did not reflect the person I wanted to be.  The more I started to self reflect and the more self aware I became, I was able to see for myself that I needed to change my ways if I wanted to stay true to myself and my values. I then began to wonder why hadn’t my friend ever challenged my actions and decisions that were so obviously leading me down the wrong path.  Looking back on our time as friends, I can now see how her enabling behavior kept me from becoming the best version of myself or at least slowed down the process.

I know what you are thinking: Shouldn’t I be accountable for my own actions? I shouldn’t blame others for my own mistakes or hold others responsible for my poor judgment. I couldn’t agree with you more. However, sometimes you are so overcome and overwhelmed by your own circumstances and pain that you need someone else to shake you by the shoulders and tell you when you are not meeting the standards you have set for yourself. In that moment you need inspiration to rise up. That’s why we need others. Not only for support and a sympathetic ear, but we need others that are so confident and sure of themselves that they hold us accountable and help to make us better when we are too confused, sad or temporarily insane to help ourselves. Sure, we might get there on our own eventually, but having someone who isn’t afraid to hold you accountable makes the process a whole lot faster and could save you a lot of heartache.

Growing up, my parents always expected a certain type of behavior from my sisters and I. They had standards for us, and they always held us accountable for our actions.  This didn’t mean we were a perfect family or that we didn’t make mistakes… trust me… every one of my family members has had their fair share of “moments”… but I will always be grateful that we didn’t (and don’t) sugar coat things at our house.

The same can be said for my sisters. They always watched out for me… If they ever saw that my moral compass was veering off course they wouldn’t just let it slide.  And now that we are all older and grown we still keep each other in check by asking questions about  decisions and  behaviors so that we can all  make better choices. My family makes me want to be better (and I hope I do the same for them).

Let me be very clear, I’m not talking about passing judgment on people or their circumstance or giving an opinion when not asked  (nobody likes to be “schooled” or feel “judged”)…  I know we are all a work in progress, and we have all done things that we regret. I’m saying that we are doing our loved ones a disservice if we let them engage in poor decision making and behavior that will only lead them on a downward spiral. When you communicate from a place of love and respect, you are capable of inspiring and helping others to be their best selves. I believe it is our responsibility as friends and family to hold each other to high standards and to help each other rise when we fall short… and intern we should humbly thank those who take the moment to get us back in check and remind us of the people we set out to be.

And so, no, we shouldn’t apologize for that…

 

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