– Stephen Chbosky
I don’t think I have ever seen a truer quote than this. Our self-worth can often be off-kilter, meaning that we don’t think we deserve very much at all, or that we think that we are deserve the very best of everything. There is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking that we deserve the very best of everything, we should all be our own biggest champions. However, if we turn down everyone that is halfway decent without giving them a chance because we feel that we deserve better, we might be living a lonely life.
Giving people a chance doesn’t mean that we are “settling” for someone, and it doesn’t mean that we are partners for life. It simply means that we are giving people a chance – they may very well be our soulmate, and we just don’t know it yet.
This quote pertains to more than just romantic relationships. I have seen this play out, for myself and many others, in all areas of life. For some, it is spending all of their hard earned money on other people and not on themselves. I have even known people to use credit cards only when spending money on themselves, effectively going into debt and punishing themselves.
Some would argue that this is simply generous or “part of being a parent”, and on some levels, I would agree. However, on those occasions when the person is spending their money on siblings, parents, friends, and so on (i.e. not on their own children), and especially when there is a begrudging sense of duty, I would say that this is perhaps a case of feeling less deserving.
For others, this manifest less in a financial way and is seen more in the distribution of time and energy. Those who never seem to stop, they look after other people’s children, they cook meals for friends who are too busy to do so, they walk other people’s dogs when they are at work, they organise family get-togethers, and they do their grown-up kids’ laundry on a regular basis. Not only do they do this, but they do it without thanks, without being asked, and without acknowledgment.
They are simply expected to do so; it has become routine. They do this without thinking of themselves, and without leaving any time to take care of themselves. The very idea of turning their phone off for an hour for a bit of quiet time seems completely ridiculous because they might just be needed by someone else.
As Sarah Knight (2015) says in her brilliant book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k”, each of us has a finite amount of time and a finite amount of energy to go around, and if we considered our time and energy in the same way that we do our money, we might readjust our priorities slightly.
In my own case, I used to work myself to the bone, constantly waiting for someone else to tell me to take a break, to stop studying, to take a lunch break, or to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I was working full time, studying for my Masters, and volunteering with two different organisations. I was waking up before sunrise to study, going to work, placements, or university, and then coming home to cook dinner and then study some more before going to bed only to start all over again.
The only books I read were text books, and I felt guilty having a gym membership or seeing friends as any free time should be spent studying – or so I thought. This went on for several years, and ironically all whilst I was studying to become a counsellor – a profession that prides itself on promoting positive mental health.
This year, I challenged myself to read one book a month. None of these books were allowed to be text books, and all of them needed to have some element of promoting self-development – my own rules! At the time of writing, I am four months in, and I can already feel a massive shift within me. I am more aware of what I deserve and more able to allow myself to stop for a break, to go to bed early if I’m tired, to say no to going out if I don’t feel like it, or to say yes to going out if I feel like it!
If you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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