Causes of Dysfunctional Self-Demand in the Family

Self-demanding is a positive personal characteristic as long as it is presented in a balanced way, that is, as long as reasonable and achievable goals are set for the individual.

The capacity to demand oneself is influenced by biological factors, but also environmental ones, the family being one of the social systems which contributes the most to the development of the subjects. For this reason, depending on the parenting style or mode of teaching to which we have been exposed, we are likely to demonstrate a greater or lesser degree of autonomy. And in some cases, parental influence helps us develop a dysfunctional mode of self-demand, which brings us more trouble than good.

A phenomenon closely related to dysfunctional self-demand is excessive perfectionism, which leads us to strive to be the best without ever having enough or acknowledging or appreciating what we have acquired. This pattern of behavior can lead to psychological disorders such as generalized anxiety or depression.

In this article, we will talk about how dysfunctional self-demanding is related to the home environment today.

What is self-demand?

Self-demanding is the ability to set goals and strive to achieve them, thereby surpassing them. Thus, this is considered a good personality trait because it helps the individual to improve themselves and achieve their goals. The problem arises when these self-demands appear in excess or are out of proportion.

People have limits both related to our abilities and skills and related to our bodily functions, we have to meet basic needs such as sleep. The capacity for self-demand drives us to keep going, but we can set ourselves irrational, unattainable goals that interfere with our functionality and end up hurting us.

We see how thin the line is between generating positive effects and having a negative impact, as in most situations excesses are bad, do not fall into the trap of wanting to be perfect.

His relationship with perfectionism

Today’s society demands that individuals be the best and continually surpass themselves. This thought influences the subject by making him believe that he must be perfect and that nothing is ever enough. The main problem is that perfection does not exist, that is why it is common for a person to feel frustrated and thus affect his condition and his life.

In order to improve and achieve the desired results, it is necessary to try and fail. We mean that, especially when we start something, when we learn, trial and error is normal, that is, we have to make mistakes to know that we have to modify to achieve our goals. Thinking that everything is fine at the beginning is meaningless and does not help us to stay motivated to improve.

Wanting to improve is positive as long as the objectives to be achieved are realistic, because otherwise we will not be able to achieve them and therefore we will never be happy or rewarded. Excessive self-demand and perfectionism can alter the state of the subject, even leading to pathologies such as anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion, stress or depression.

Self-demanding in the family environment

Being a personality trait, self-demanding can appear in any social sphere of an individual’s life.

The family system is considered a primary group, defined as a small group of subjects that are few in number and have a strong bond between them, that is, one member of the group exercises influence over another and vice versa. Thus, one can observe a demand for self in the different members of the family, both in the parents and in the children. We see how self-demanding does not only appear in adulthood, but can also be observed in children.

As with most personal traits, their presence is influenced by both biological and environmental aspects, i.e. the subject will already have a genetic predisposition to self-demanding but will also influence and depend on the influence it receives from the outside, as is the social environment that surrounds it. Therefore, it influences learning.

Causes of excessive self-demand in the family

Correctly carrying out the different care and parenting roles in the family is not easy; we are not born knowing how to be parents or behaving like exemplary children. For this reason, it is normal that we do not always perform our functions optimally. We will thus see dysfunctional self-demanding behaviors both in parents (who set themselves the goal of being the best in the education of their children) and in children (who seek to be exemplary children).

Being a parent is one of the most important roles played by a subject, being considered one of the most complex roles. Before having a child, it is normal for parents to have a thought or an idea of ​​how everything is going to be, how they will be as parents and what their child will be like, they want everything to be perfect, be it the best in everything, but to achieve this goal it is impossible.

Here we will see how self-demanding arises in the family environment, both due to problematic parenting and the dynamics of social relations and by influencing them.

1. You want to be perfect

As we have already seen, one of the causes of excessive self-demanding is want to be perfect in everything. If we set ourselves impossible goals that deviate from our possibilities and abilities, it will be impossible for us to achieve them and the results will never seem sufficient to us.

We see this perfectionism in parents when they want to be the best, not only in the family but also at work, in the group of friends… and in children who want to become the perfect child, in the same way in different areas like family, school, extracurricular activities…

2. Always compare with others

Comparing is a very common behavior that brings nothing good to the individual, since most of the time we tend to look at the traits or characteristics where the other person stands out and surpasses us, only valuing the result and not taking into account the process that carried out the other subject to achieve this end, nor what are their abilities. That is to say, the comparison is decontextualized without taking into account the essential variables that justify the differences.

These comparisons can be demonstrated by parents, who value their behavior with the behavior of other parents in mind. We live in a social environment and therefore it is normal to be influenced by other people; but we must not forget that we are each different and that the behaviors or modes of action that go well with some do not have to work with everyone, there are different forms of parenting, all of which are equally valid.

In children, one can also see a tendency to compare themselves to other children, whether they are classmates or siblings. In the same way, this corporation does not benefit them either, since their situation may not be the same as that of the other child and create in him a feeling of inferiority where he is constantly asked to improve characteristics or variables that are not instead of focusing on working on your own skills.

These comparisons can also be external, that is to say that it can be another individual who makes the comparison such as the mother in the case of the children or a friend in the case of the parents.

3. Excessively demanding and restrictive parents

As we have already said, self-demanding is also developed by outside influence, so if our parents were or are very demanding and strict with us, it is likely that we will end up adopting this need to do everything right. and always achieve everything. . It is common to find that demanding parents are so because they themselves had very demanding parents, i.e. the pattern repeats itself. Likewise, very strict children often receive a very strict upbringing.

4. He doesn’t recognize not his accomplishments

In families with a high degree of autonomy, there is a tendency to consider and highlight only the things that are badly done and need to be improved, which is why it is common to observe punishments or self-punishments. On the other hand, the behaviors and positive results obtained by the subjects are not valued, they are considered something normal that should not be highlighted and, therefore, no reward or reward will be received for it. . They will always live thinking of the future in what they have to accomplish and will not appreciate what they have already accomplished.

5. Dependence on the approval of others

We sometimes observe that self-demand appears as a need to be recognized and valued positively by others, by the people around us, in this case by our loved ones. Similarly, the excessive demand on oneself will ultimately aim to obtain external reinforcement. We see how there are families that reinforce the need to love each other more than to love each other. It increases the self-esteem associated with the approval of my family members.

6. Only negative results stand out

It is not surprising that in the family environment only the negative aspects or variables stand out. That is, we can observe how parents pay much more attention to what is wrong with the child, pointing out everything that needs improvement. In the same way, reproaches can also appear between couples, taking into account only when the other acts badly.

It seems that they don’t teach us to value what we do well and only highlight the bad things. This behavior, contrary to what we expect, does not help progress and development, because it can generate in the individual a feeling of frustration, of doing everything wrong and therefore an excessive demand to never be enough.

7. Everything is white or black

The perception that things are going well or badly is a fairly common thought among demanding people and is acquired mainly from our family environment. He is taught not to look at intermediaries “either it’s done well or it’s bad”, “either you’re good at something or you’re bad”. Thus, it is common that excessive self-demand develops to be the best, because the opposite will mean being bad.

8. Does not tolerate mistakes

As we have already pointed out, error is not bad, nor does it mean failure, it is part of a progress that we must go through to achieve the gains. In families where mistakes are not allowed, it is normal for their members to develop a dysfunctional self-demand, always trying to get things right and not conceiving or condoning making mistakes or something wrong, this fact will also lead to frustration.

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In Psychology and Psychotherapy Miguel Ángel we have been treating and providing our services in the sector since 1981, and as a health center with decades of experience, we provide coverage for all mental health issues related to low self-esteem, anxiety, to depressive disorders, family relationships, couple crises, and more.

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