Don't Put Too Many Demands on Yourself

What happens when you push the boundaries of demands and ask more of yourself? Psychologist Marcelo Rodriguez Ceberio tells us about the problem of hyper-demands.
Don't Put Too Many Demands on Yourself

Last update: 22 July, 2021

To a lesser or greater extent, every day is marked by your motivation and drive. While motivation is based on demands, your drive pushes you to “go further”. However, problems occur when you go beyond your limits and strive, in an obsessive way, for perfection. Then, instead of valuing what you’ve done, you come to a standstill and end up telling everyone what you haven’t managed to do.

According to Marcelo Rodriguez Ceberio, this is the result of what he calls hyper-demand. In fact, it’s a real way of devaluing what you’ve achieved. For this reason, make sure you exercise caution and don’t put too many demands on yourself.

Motivating yourself with demands and criticism

In order to carry out any undertaking, you need to be motivated. Being motivated means you feel encouraged to take action and carry out whatever you’re planning to do. However, for this process to be successful, you need to limit your demands.

Demand is the impulse or strength to carry out an undertaking in an ideal way.

A woman looking upset.

To a certain extent, demands encourage and value your efforts. However, beyond those limits, it becomes, in Ceberio’s words, hyper-demand. You might be asking yourself what these limits actually are. In other words, at what point would you overreach your possibilities?

Ceberio defines hyper-demand or over-demand as striving beyond your personal potential. It’s the urgent need for everything to turn out perfectly. In reality, life has both highs and lows. However, it’s difficult for a hyper-demand person to tolerate any margin of error. Even one mistake is unacceptable and leads to guilt and torment in them.

Healthy demand and hyper-demand

  • A healthy demand process seeks possibilities and personal resources. Then, it enforces them to apply them to situations and experiences that need solving.
  • However, hyper-demand doesn’t just seek personal resources. It tries to create and manufacture possibilities that exceed your capabilities.

Healthy demand people know their limits, capitalize on their resources, and value them. However, hyper-demand people are like machines. They don’t understand their limitations and exceed their capabilities. For this reason, when they don’t reach their desired targets, they pressure themselves until they feel completely demoralized.

Hyper-demand is the perfect example of the glass half-empty or half-full. As long as the glass is full, these people remain balanced. However, if it’s half-full/empty, they start to devalue themselves.

For example, a normal person would be perfectly happy getting a B on a test. However, a hyper-demand type will obsess if they don’t get an A. In fact, even if a hyper-demand person were to achieve an A-, they’d stress over not getting an A or an A+, asking themselves why they failed.

Therefore, a healthy demand-type person revels in their performance and seeks to use the experience to their benefit in the future. On the other hand, a hyper-demand person won’t be happy even if they were to achieve an A+. They’d still find something to complain about.

Hyper-demand people feel guilty

Hyper-demand type people always point out what’s missing. They’re constantly indebted to themselves. This makes them feel guilty and anguished. Therefore, in addition to putting excessive demands on themselves, they feel guilty and also tend to complain a lot.

However, healthy demand types don’t feel guilty. They only feel the necessary emotions, as they’re able to accept a margin of error. Furthermore, they’re aware that this margin enables them to learn.

  • Hyper-demand people don’t allow themselves to make mistakes. They have no possible margin for error. For this reason, they experience insurmountable feelings of guilt that manifest themselves in blame, aggression, and other kinds of torment. Hyper-demand is rigid, sanctimonious, and unequivocal.
  • On the other hand, healthy demand people are more flexible. They’re less prone to dogmatism. Furthermore, they allow themselves to make mistakes in the face of the arbitrariness of experience.

A healthy demand type of person says “I’ll do my best”. The hyper-demand type says “I must do it perfectly”.

The differences between hyper-demand and healthy demand

These attitudes have consequences, not only for the person but for their environment as well.

Hyper-demand, both of oneself and others, is commonplace in undervalued people. Indeed, it’s usual for hyper-demanding people to become critical and belittling of certain people in their environment. They don’t value what’s been done because they’re firmly fixated on what hasn’t been done.

Here’s a list of the characteristics and corresponding neurotransmitters of healthy demand and hyper-demand type people.

HEALTHY DEMAND HYPER DEMAND
Positive thoughts. Automatic negative thoughts.
Motivated and encouraged. Scared and fearful.
Push forward. Paralyzed.
Empowered. Give power to others.
Finalize projects. Procrastinate and don’t finish projects.
View things positively. Critical about what’s missing.
Increased self-esteem. Devalued.
Shares with others. Distracted.
Ask for things. Don’t ask for things, as they feel inferior.
Good mood. Irritating and anxious.
Know their limits. Don’t know how far they can go.
Okay if they don’t achieve the desired result. Uncomfortable if they don’t achieve the desired result.
Value what they have. Value what’s missing and not done.
Likely to succeed. Likely to fail.
Productive anxiety. Paralyzing anxiety.
Serotonin, dopamine. Cortisol, adrenaline.

Too many demands mean undervaluation

People who devalue themselves work hard to be recognized. As a matter of fact, many of them become outstanding students. This is because, due to their low self-esteem, they make excessive demands on themselves to try to overcome their feelings of worthlessness. In reality, they’re trying to attract attention with the secret expectation that they’ll be valued.

Many of them might have felt overlooked in childhood. Perhaps their parents were busy working or focused on their marriage or other children, for example. For this reason, the child learned to be hyper-demanding to try to be valued by their parents.

However, we should mention that not all exemplary students hyper-demand and undervalue themselves. Hyper-demand is a resource that a person with low self-esteem uses to lift themselves up. Nevertheless, sooner or later, the hammer of self-fulfilling prophecy comes down on them.

A man looking worried.

Other hyper-demand issues

Hyper-demand types can sometimes burn out. In addition, they have a low tolerance for frustration. Indeed, when they fail to achieve their idealized goals, they feel a deep sense of failure. Nobody can stop them from feeling this way.

Furthermore, they’ve always tried to place themselves above others. For this reason, they find it hard to cope with the discomfort of frustration. They feel alone, even though they’ve built that loneliness themselves.

They also experience feelings of omnipotence. However, omnipotence magnifies their hyper-demanding behavior. This combination is lethal, as it leads them to become even more of a perfectionist and, hence, more susceptible to feeling like something’s missing.

The greater the hyper-demand, the greater the systemization in the person’s life and environment. Hyper-demand types become critical, authoritarian, and negative, both towards themselves and their environment. They never give any positive significance to their own achievements or those of others. Nor do they gain any pleasure from reaching a goal.

Over time, living with these types of people becomes intolerable. They’re context-dependent but fall into the trap of never feeling satisfied. Consequently, other people, far from accepting them, repay them in the same way, by segregating them.

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