Double Standards

Double standards don't always have to be wrong.

Double standards are a hallmark of duplicity.

Imagine a parent criticizing his child for lying or cheating, and yet doing the same thing himself.

What moral authority does he have to reprimand his child?

One uniform line for yourself and others.

Judge others if you want, but hold yourself to the same standards.

What’s sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander.

For a long time, I thought that this was the hallmark of authenticity – to hold yourself to the same standards you hold others.

I no longer believe in a single standard anymore – for two different reasons.

Leniency – Lower the Bar for Others

If you hold yourself to even reasonably high standards, you’ll inevitably find that many people around you don’t meet up to them.

Does that mean you’ll spend your time sitting in judgment on them? Maybe. There’s nothing to stop us from doing that if we want to.

But it’s probably a very lame way to spend your life, trying to create an artificial sense of superiority over others. All you do is waste time and energy, and develop a habit of cynicism.

Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Double standards don’t always have to be wrong.

It’s possible to hold yourself to one set of standards while recognizing that others might not meet them. And that there’s actually no reason they should meet them because other people don’t have any responsibility to live up to our standards.

So rather than judge someone who isn’t as intelligent or hard working as you, you can just try to help them or failing that, just get on with your life. You’ll be far happier when you’re not comparing yourself with others and you’ll have time for other better things.

Of course, you can’t do this everywhere – in an organization, this could become an excuse to accept mediocre work. It’s more of a personal trait than a professional practice.

For Yourself – Raise the Bar Higher

There’s another reason it makes sense to have double standards – one for others and one for yourself.

When I got into a top college with a high rank, my dad told me I could have done better.

When I got into the civil service with a high rank, my dad told me I could have done better.

You could say it’s bad to be always yearning for more, to be the jarring voice at a time everyone else is singing paeans. I sometimes felt that way.

Then I realized that he was teaching me a priceless lesson in his own way.

It’s so easy to impress the world.

Crack an exam, study at a foreign university or work abroad, buy a fancy car, take pictures to portray a life you don’t live – the world is big, and you’ll always find people ready to give you adulation somewhere or the other.

But we, and others on the inside, know better – we probably haven’t done anything all impressive in reality.

You can choose to inflate your achievements anyway, and make them seem bigger than what they really are. People will buy it, and you might feel good.

If you do that, you’ll also probably not achieve anything else in your life because you’ll delude yourself that you’ve already made it. You can live on basking in that glory.

Or you can hold yourself to a higher standard, and refuse to let praises lull you into complacency and false pride.

Then, maybe one day, we can actually do something impressive, because we know that we aren’t really all that amazing and we still have a long way to go.

So, to conclude:

A lower standard for others – tolerant with others and strict with yourself.

And a higher standard for yourself – what impresses the world isn’t usually all that great.



Hello Pratyush,
How can we then differentiate between striving higher, setting the bar higher and Nishkama karma ? If we say ‘being ok with outcome’ as Nishkama karma. There will be some elements of, being focussed on outcome and resultant either glory or frustration.


very nice article and also a very good lessone to learn for everyone


When we sometimes don’t live up to the paths, we have created. Then we feel anxiety. (How can we strict ourself? )


“The fraudulence paradox was that the more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you felt inside — you were a fraud. And the more of a fraud you felt like, the harder you tried to convey an impressive or likable image of yourself so that other people wouldn’t find out what a hollow, fraudulent person you really were” – David Foster Wallace

I read this a year ago. I couldn’t understand it then. Thank you.


Nice idea – I think it’s more to do with validation though (


I walk 2 km to reach sunset point at big ben , london in stilettos , really long hefty dress , just to get myself clicked at sunset !

And this was not to seek attention , or for approval on social media ( because I dont have any of those accounts ) …

But just to live for that moment , feel like Bollywood in freeeezing cold ! 🥶

And then I realized .. yes … you dont want people for validation , approval , appreciation , praise .

But you surely need some people who take care of you when you are an unlovable mess … and when you catch fever !

and … I was in rush to post a comment and I realized made a spelling mistake and could have done better …
So reposting …..
The whole vibe of this place is so intellectual , no bullshit , and so serious ! 🤐

The kid

“what impresses the world isn’t usually all that great” can be rephrased as “ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai”.


Your blogpost are really helpful. Especially clarity they bring.

Will you please write one such blog on “Nishkama Karma” ?

The deluge of information about this topic on internet only tells : Least knowledgeable people speak loudest and in a complex, non-understandable ways.

Shrey Mishra

This also tells “never expect anyone to reciprocate what you do for them.” They’ll hardly live up to your standards.