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To settle for less means to accept things in life which are of low quality, of low value and to give your minimal performance. It implies that one is not capable of achieving the full potential of one’s skills and personal capabilities. If we take on the perspective as posed by Carl Rogers who was a humanistic psychologist, all individuals have the drive to reach their highest level of potential and achieve self-actualisation. When a person experiences an incongruence, a mismatch, between what they believe about themselves and what they truly are capable of then this self-actualisation is not possible.

Let’s take the following situations as examples of individuals finding themselves in a state of finding it difficult to reach their full potential:

  • On the workplace.

It may be easy to lose motivation and perform the bare minimum. Many individuals do not take the initiative but rather end up in a state where they do not embrace the value of investing in their professional self and image. This could be a result of a number of things; among which one could name the lack of stimulation from one’s particular role, the repetitiveness of a boring job, the absence of recognition from your team players or superiors, the lack of opportunities to advance one’s position and to develop new skills. Apart from this, self-doubt and the lack of direction may also impact negatively on how much a person becomes involved and tries their best to increase the level of production or quality of service being offered.

  • In relationships.

At times a relationship may become a matter of routine and familiarity. This offers a sense of safety and acts as a comfort zone, especially in times where there may be emotional turmoil or disturbances in other areas of our life. At times one may be trying to fill a void or deal with some unresolved issues from childhood through a particular relationship. We may not be having all our needs met from a particular relationship or we might not be our best possible self in the relationship, however we may opt to remain in the dynamic because of the risk it entails to end something that in a way is working for us. We might be battling with compromising between our needs and desires and trying to settle for less because we doubt how much we deserve or else we doubt whether what we are looking for is truly important or realistic to achieve.

  • In life.

Self-growth may be overlooked on many occasions and by many individuals. However, to achieve self-growth means to become aware of how we function, why we react in the ways that we do and what we can do to achieve our identified goals. It also means that we empower ourselves to set boundaries and to decide what things to accept or reject in life. We acknowledge the fact of how deserving we are and aim to live a more authentic life.

Why do we feel so powerless at times? Why do we decide to stay? Why do we decide to settle for something less?

Usually the answer to these questions is because we doubt in our self-worth. We do not believe that we deserve any better, we do not believe that we can do anything more and we feel powerless. A quote that has stayed with me for a number of years is the following from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky which says that “we accept the love we believe we deserve”. And this can be applied across a number of situations and not just love, but also respect, opportunities and quality of life.

If you would like to know more about how you can love yourself more and search for your self-worth, I encourage you to read my other blog named How I can love myself.

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.