I used to foolishly think I could numb myself into believing I was worthy. I was so good at ignoring the discomfort. I thought if I avoided the difficult conversations, I’d avoid the pain of accepting my reality. I believed being “OK” was good enough. Because my life had drastically improved after leaving an abusive relationship, I had come to accept a new level of mediocrity in all aspects of my life. My expectations for what I wanted my world to look like were acutely low.
I work with women every day, and one thing each of them have in common is they have numbed themselves to the point where they no longer notice what doesn’t feel good. They’ve decided feeling “fine” is good enough. They are going through the motions without even questioning if they want more out of life. They take what they can because they don’t know if they will ever find anything better.
Each time you ignore the small nudges, the minor discomforts, the microscopic urges to change, you lose more of who you are until you no longer recognize yourself.
In a 19th century experiment, researchers found that when they placed a frog in a pan of boiling water, the frog immediately jumped out. But when they put a frog in cold water and slowly boiled the water, the frog boiled to death. The assumption is that the change in temperature is so gradual, the frog does not realize it’s boiling to death. Although the results of the experiment are in question, the metaphor cautions of a “death by a thousand cuts,” or a slow, unnoticed incremental set of events that are endured over a long period of time. Settling for fine is the best way to commit emotional and spiritual suicide over time.
How do you know if you are settling for fine?
1. YOU COMPARE, JUDGE, AND CRITICIZE OTHERS
You have difficulty being happy for others, people who seem to have it all together trigger you and maybe even irritate you. Comparing yourself to others is the first sign you need to look at what is not working in your own life. Notice the judgment or criticism that arises when you see others having the audacity to chase their dreams.
You never see someone who is completely happy and content judging anybody else because they usually don’t care how others are living their lives. They are too busy living their own bliss.
Accepting ourselves leads to self-compassion and is also the first step to self-empowerment. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean that we accept everything in our lives, it simply means we stop beating ourselves up and accept responsibility for the choices we’ve made without judgment. If we can turn the focus to changing the things that are not working in our lives, it leaves little time to think about others.
2. YOU ARE CONSTANTLY OVERWHELMED, STRESSED, EXHAUSTED
If you wake up feeling dread more days than not, you must examine what is causing that misery. When I first begin to work with my clients, I ask them to take a detailed inventory of each aspect of their lives. We go over everything from which rooms in their house are causing them stress to which relationships are no longer serving them. By addressing what is causing discomfort, we make room for the things that bring us joy.
3. YOU IGNORE YOUR NEEDS AND HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOUR DESIRES
You’ve suppressed your dreams and have accepted the status quo. You go through the motions and barely notice the changing of seasons. You find yourself putting things off until the conditions are “ideal,” which you know will never happen. You put your needs last and many times ignore them all together.
Reconnecting with our desires is essential to our emotional wellbeing. In the beginning, committing to doing at least one thing that brings you joy will alter your moods and bring meaning to your days.
4. YOU FEEL STUCK AND DON’T TRUST YOURSELF
Do you ever feel like life is happening to you? Or maybe you’ve noticed the world is moving forward without you, but are afraid to make any changes because you don’t trust yourself.
Look back on the last few years – has much changed in your life? That’s a problem.
When we live in the past, we don’t see ourselves as capable co-creators so we continue to sit on the sidelines as spectators. We walk around with an uneasiness in our hearts and everything feels like it’s an uphill battle. By setting boundaries around what we will accept and what we won’t accept, we can take our power back. Reclaiming our power puts us one step closer to reclaiming our worth.
5. YOU’VE CREATED A PATTERN OF UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
You feel empty inside so you look outward to find somebody to fill that hole. You don’t feel valuable so you try to do more and be more to prove you are worthy of love. You try to please everybody but feel resentful when others don’t reciprocate.
Have you ever lost your identity after a relationship ended because you gave everything you had just to prove your worth?
When we feel the need to prove our value by doing more, we tend to accept more hurt than we should and less love than we deserve because we feel we are not yet worthy of that adoration. Becoming an advocate for ourselves is one thing we can do that will change how we are treated by others. We show others how to treat us, we set the bar. We must let go of anything that doesn’t add to our lives and only allow what brings us most alive.
6. YOU AREN’T TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, SPIRITUALLY
You’ve accepted mediocrity in different areas of your life. You feel more empty than full most days. You are too tired to exercise and that makes you feel guilty which in turn, makes you not want to get out of bed. Sometimes the weight of the guilt paralyzes you which keeps you from making choices in fear of making the wrong one.
At this point, we’ve created a cycle of powerlessness. But we must find our own relief; nobody is going to give it to us. Only we can demand more. By making mindful choices we take our power back. When we consciously choose the thing that is aligned with the way we want to feel, we get closer to living in flow and that is where the magic happens.
When we pay attention to our discomfort, pain, or suffering we will discover it’s almost always because there is a misalignment between what we are choosing and how we want to feel. Raising our standards and asking others to meet us up there is how we can break the patterns of accepting less than what we desire.
Only we can increase our worth, and when we do that, the world follows. When we find our voice and live our truth we will realize the greatness within us. Many times we allow old beliefs to dictate the quality of our lives, but the quality of our lives is proportionate to the level of truth we live, and then freedom ensues.