In our interview with Jenny Moix, we will discover a dimension that will help us to be a little happier : flexibility. Being flexible means questioning a lot of the things we do and say to ourselves. This means, for example, realizing how our personal demands are eroding our capacity for growth and well-being.
Psychotherapist Albert Ellis said that our self-destructive thoughts and patterns are installed in our minds through habit and practice, sometimes even inherited from our parents and our own upbringing.
With them, with these inflexible mandates laden with guilt and fear, we cut off our creativity and that vital impulse where we can be freer, more secure to create the reality we desire.
Interview with Jenny Moix
Jenny Moix (Sabadell, Barcelona) carries the passion for psychology in every fragment of her being from an early age. She is a professor of psychology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and a member of the stress and health research group. His specializations are chronic pain, awareness and attention.
She is also well known for her publications and books such as Manual de dolor (2006), Cara a cara con tu dolor (2011), Felicidad Flexible (2011) and Mi mente sin mi (2018). She has written several scientific articles, collaborated with El País Semanal for years, as well as in different media such as Catalunya Ràdio.
Jenny Moix is also a great communicator. She lectures on different areas of psychology and personal growth.
Talking with Jenny Moix is a pleasure because of her human quality, her enthusiasm and her remarkable ability to make us think, discover and understand much better who we are and what we could do to be happier. Let’s get started!
Q. What is the self-requirement?
It is a mandate or an order that we give to ourselves. Self-demand usually has a more or less unconscious form of thought that begins with an “I must…”.
Q. When do we generally become more demanding of ourselves?
We tend to be more demanding of ourselves in situations where the values and beliefs we hold dear come into play.
For example, the thought “only people with a strong academic record do” prompts you to be demanding with your grades or “only thin people can attract others” prompts you to be demanding with your pounds …
Q. Is there any advantage in being demanding of yourself? Can we get something out of it for ourselves?
The requirement is not bad in itself. What makes it dangerous is its rigidity. To put it simply, if we were to categorize personal requirements into rigid and flexible, the rigid would be the bad and the flexible the good.
Flexible requests allow you to ring the bell in class, skip the diet, get out of the day’s schedule, leave dishes unwashed, and even allow you to give up something when you see it don’t. does not make sense. The rigid ones make you feel very guilty at the slightest deviation and also attach you to evil.
In life we need to have a meaning, a “where I’m going”, otherwise we would be confused, we wouldn’t know what to do. Our values and beliefs give us this meaning, this orientation. We derive objectives and requirements that drive us to achieve them.
It is the game of life. We set the rules and we follow them. We are playing. However, sometimes these goals, these rules of the game, are too rigid and instead of serving to guide us, they only make us suffer: if we follow them because they are so hard that we suffer and if we do not not follow because we feel guilty.
It happens when we forget that in reality these beliefs, values, goals or rules of the game are relative; so we firmly believe that they are almost sacred.
Self-demand can orient and motivate us, provided that we are deeply aware that it is we who created it and that we can likewise get rid of it.
That is to say, it is beneficial as long as it does not make us lose our freedom. When we say “ I can’t say no ” or “ I can’t stop… ”, it’s because we forgot that we put those personal demands there.
Q. How does a person become demanding of himself? What are the factors at play?
Our parents, our family, our teachers, our friends… society in general is responsible for programming us. Although programming does not always give the same results. Some people, those we usually classify as “well adjusted” are more demanding than those we classify as “passive”.
In a society that rewards having a lot of money, climbing the career ladder, being a partner for life, being slim, looking young at any age… A good person programmed, adapted to this crazy society, is loaded with personal demands.
And basically, it even looks good! Their high standards are rewarded by society, which is why some people pride themselves on being very demanding. The company plans us so efficiently that the self-requirement has a built-in maintenance system.
Then there are other more atavistic, more primitive factors that are written in our genes. Evolution has engraved them on our chromosomes. The Homo sapiens did not survive alone; he is a group hominid, and it is thanks to the tribe that he is safe. Thousands of years of evolution have marked this fact in all our cells.
This is why we like that others share our point of view, that they do not judge us, that they accept us, that they like us… and most of our personal requirements come from there.
From the enormous pressure we feel to have our bodies adjust to the beauty canons of the day, to the repression we make of our feelings so as not to create conflict, they are there to make sure that we let’s stay in the tribe.
This is why they are sometimes so rigid, because deep down inside we (wrongly) believe that these requirements are necessary in order to survive.
Q. Is it possible to manage high demand levels? How? ‘Or’ What ?
The word “manage” is another result of our grid society. It is fashionable to use the word “manage” our emotions, our beliefs, our feelings… as if we are managing the affairs of an office, as if we can put our subjectivity in an Excel and fix all the boxes.
Even today, a boy explained to me that he wants to end his personal demand in two months. As if you could put a stop to self-demand. We put one requirement above another, we humans are hopeless.
Behind the self-demands, as we have seen, are our goals and our values which are maintained by the fear of guilt. The goal value tells you: “ Take care of your sick mother at all times, even if you have to give up everything ”, and the fear of guilt: “ If you don’t, you will suffer with guilt until the end. of your days ”.
And further still, there is the fear of heights. If there was someone who, with a magic eraser, could erase all the values so that we didn’t have personal demands, what would guide us? Who would we be? What would we do?
Imagine a person whose whole existence revolves around the need to take care of his mother, he does nothing else, and this causes him great suffering, his health both physical and mental is very deteriorated. How did she get there? Why did she hold onto this value so intensely?
Maybe she’s afraid of heights, maybe afraid of what she is going to do with her own life, maybe afraid of being free. The question of self-demand can go so far.
Q. Jenny Moix, is being a perfectionist the same as being demanding of yourself?
These are two concepts that are closely related. You can demand that the house be perfectly clean, the shirt perfectly ironed, the hair perfectly cut, everything perfectly neat.
As we have already said, the self-demand can have degrees, some are more flexible and therefore healthy, others are more rigid and make us suffer. The desperate search for perfection in a field already evokes a certain rigidity.
It tells us about the aspiration for reality to conform to a mental ideal about something. In this case, suffering is at the end of the road because reality and ideals never tend to adjust.
Q. Are self-esteem and self-demand related in any way?
Yes, they are. Many demands arise from the need to prove something to the world, to yourself or to “be better” so that others will accept us. Therefore, the lower the self-esteem, the greater these needs.
Likewise, we want to love ourselves better, but the love of self must be unconditional, like the love that mothers have for their children. Genuine love is to love ourselves as we are, to accept ourselves.
A child who is loved and accepted is happier. He turns his life into something much more beautiful. It’s the same for us. Accepting our uniqueness would be easier without this constant presence of social ideals. Being aware of the pressure of these ideals is the only way to be less influenced by them.
Q. Are happiness and self-demand compatible?
The word “self-demand” seems ugly to me. “To demand” is very hard and sharp. “ My boss demands that I… ” indicates that if you don’t, the boss will fire you, reduce your salary or decide some kind of repercussion. If we had to choose our boss, would we choose the one who is demanding or the one who is motivating?
I think most of us would prefer motivating it. That is to say, the one who knows our qualities and emphasizes them, the one who applauds us when we do well and the one who forgives us when we have made a mistake, the one who teaches us.
We would be happier with this kind of “outside” pattern, because the same thing happens with the “inside” pattern. The motivating is better than the demanding.
Q. Finally, Jenny Moix, could you point out some guidelines or keys to consider when it comes to self-demand?
I think we should come to terms with our self-demands from the start. “ I am me and my requirements “. That would be the starting point. It is normal to have them, some more than others. We are programmed. To fight against them would be like demanding their elimination. One more requirement then.
Why not just watch them? Watch them like a mother who watches her child. Or how we watch our beloved cat or dog do something stupid. Observe them without judging them.
To observe them, we must recognize them and they are often disguised. Many of them are dressed in the disguise of external demand. We feel obligated by our family, by our colleagues, by our partner to do something. And we experience it as a request that comes from them, outside. But in reality, it’s internal! No one is pointing a gun at us.
If we were to ask a group of people how they eliminated one of their self-demands, we would probably get a response like “ One day I realized that… this didn’t make sense ”. And what made them tick? The words of a song, a film, a book, a conversation with a friend, a pencil fallen to the ground, a bird which crossed their garden …
As we see, there is a lot to think about around the universe of self-demands. Without a doubt, thanks to Jenny Moix, we need to think about how they influence us on a day-to-day basis and what we can do to remove the burden they have on our lives. Will you dare?