We often hear the phrase you deserve better and when we hear that phrase we think about what other people need to do for us and what are the ways that other people show up that do not feel aligned with what we desire. We think about what are the things that other people do that "make" us feel bad or to have negative feelings about ourselves. We even consider what are the things that we accept in our relationships with others that put us in this place where we feel like we should have “more.” The more refers to the gap between what we offer others vs. what we're receiving; and what we expect vs. what is done; the potential of an experience vs. the reality of the experience.
Why do we accept less?
We stay in relationships and patterns because they serve us in some way. They serve a story that we tell ourselves about who we need to be and what we deserve. It helps us PROVE something.
The most common story that trauma teaches us is that we need to overwork. We need overwork to prove that we are worthy of love, worthy of the job, worthy as a parent and worthy to live. As Black people, in particular, our inherent stories around work and our value are directly related to racial trauma and enslavement. Overworking, we believe, will save us from poverty, disrespect and alienation. “If I can do all the things to prove I am worthy they will ______, insert any measure of value here - ex. love me, give me the job, promote me, pay me more, not harass me, believe that I am good enough to be here.
The truth is that you could never work hard enough to MAKE someone feel anything about you. All you are doing is teaching them to expect that you will do the most and helping them to understand how YOU measure your value. Extra work in advance of more money, a promotion or time off only proves that you can and will get the job done without anything additional. Overworking in relationships to solidify your value to get a commitment, only shows that you don’t need a commitment to do commitment things. Working to appease people so that they don’t - or will stop - mistreat(ing) you only proves that you believe that your efforts to please others determines how well you are treated.
In other words when you work to prove something you are not proving you are worthy, you are validating that you alone are not worthy, but that your work is what makes you valuable. In addition, if you are granted the validation you seek, you will likely only have to work HARDER to maintain it for fear of disappointing others and fear of having the validation taken away.
You settle for less because you want to be validated, approved of and cared for by others.
You feel lonely, unseen, unworthy. But the truth is as long as you keep devaluing you, you will always feel this way. You will always be attracted to people and situations that require you to prove yourself. You will always overwork. There will always be a gap between what you give and what you receive because your relationships reflect the story you have about who you are and what you deserve.
You receive less because you believe you deserve less and you are attracted to and stay in situations that validate that belief.
I want you to take a moment to expand your thinking when you see or hear the phrase "you deserve better." Instead of focusing on the ways you deserve better from others, I want you to consider all the ways that you deserve better from you. What do you believe about who you are? How do you feel about caring for you? Are you comfortable prioritizing your needs? Do you give yourself permission for ease and rest? Are you comfortable with ease, rest and receiving care?
How are you showing up for you and with you that supports YOU in growing, defining yourself and creating the life you desire?
In thinking about “deserving better," I want you to consider the life that you want and all the ways that you stop yourself from achieving it. I urge you to think about what you say yes to and what does it say about what you believe. Who do you say you are and does that align with the things that you actually do? Do you say you are confident, but fear runs the show? Do you say you want to be happy, but consistently choose situations where you are not? Consider all the times that you show up differently than what is required to achieve what is aligned with your spirit.
The “you deserve better” needs to be about what you are doing for you so that ease, love, rest and health show up fully in your life. I am challenging you to be better. To be aware of the ways you devalue you. To change the stories about who you are so that you require more from you. More consistency, more loving accountability, more action, more self trust.
The truth is, before you can ask anything of anyone else, you deserve better from you.