A person becomes an accomplice in their own dissatisfaction when they constantly settle for less than what they want. As you begin to make decisions that reflect what you desire from your life and your relationships, you will start to feel better about yourself. The better you feel, the easier it becomes for you to reject mistreatment. And when you resist the need to settle, you will be rewarded with opportunities.
Here are five ways to stop settling and start feeling better:
1. Stop rationalizing the poor behavior of others.
Do you frequently make excuses for others’ mistreatment of you? “He had a bad day, that’s why he’s lashing out,” or “She’s had a hard life, that’s why she expects so much of me.” It matters if you don’t have peace of mind in your relationships. Instead of rationalizing, try to speak directly to what hurts you. If the people you are close to can’t hear you, or if they dismiss or invalidate you, and you accept that, you are settling for less than what you deserve.
2. Recognize that not getting what you want is not a personal curse.
You make yourself vulnerable to settling if you tell yourself that you are cursed by forces outside of your control when hardship or setbacks occur. That point of view concedes defeat. Life is sometimes unfair, but not always. Each time you try for something you want, wipe the slate clean. Otherwise you allow the bitterness of earlier disappointments (not forces outside of your control) to make you vulnerable to settling for less than you deserve and can achieve.
3. Recognize that being alone is not the same thing as abandonment.
As described in my book, finding yourself alone doesn’t mean you are inherently flawed. If you can’t be alone without self-criticism and self-attack, you will settle for lousy friendships and lovers just to find a diversion from loneliness. Accept aloneness now, so you can get something better later.
4. Become used to expressing what you desire—and say it repeatedly.
No one gets what they want if they don’t fully accept and recognize what they desire and communicate it to the people in their lives. Get in touch with what you want, big and small. Talk about it with friends, family, and acquaintances. Say it out loud. Put the universe on notice so support can come back to you.
5. Don’t agree with what you don’t want.
A huge part of settling is being a “yes man” woman. If you agree to things you don’t really want, you are building a life that doesn’t reflect your own needs and identity. When asked to do something, or even when you are asked what you want for dinner, allow yourself to pause and go inward. Ask yourself, “What do I want to eat?” “Do I want to do this?” or “What kind of work do I wish to do?” and then heed the answers.
I am a psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C. and the author of Breaking Up and Divorce—5 Steps: How to Heal and be Comfortable Alone and Building Self-Esteem—5 Steps: How to Feel "Good Enough." For more, follow me on Twitter @DrJillWeber and on Facebook, or visit drjillweber.com.