There are two songs by Mya that will always and forever be my jams. This first one is "Fallen" (that track is still fire!). Yeah, she was basically a stalker in the video, but we'll chalk that up to artistic direction and let it slide. Then there's "The Best of Me" (the original and the remix). "Oh no, I can't let you get the best of me/Even tho, deep inside, somethin's dyin' to see/How you flow out them clothes then you put it on me/Feelings comin' on strong. I know that it's wrong. I can't let you get the best of me".
That? That right there? It's oh-so-fitting for the points that I'm about to make. I think every single person reading this (whether they choose to admit it or not) has settled far more than they ever intended to. Settled when it came to their career. Settled when it came to their relationships (both romantic as well as platonic). Even settled when it came to their overall standards and expectations. And shoot, where did it get us? Right where writer Maureen Dowd once told us that it would—"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for." (Ain't that the truth?!)
And why do so many of us settle? Because we don't remember some truths about life and ourselves when it comes to making certain types of choices. And when the truth isn't what's guiding you, some form of deception is bound to take over. When that happens, literally, all hell breaks loose.
Let's do something about that today so that the truth of what you're deserving of can finally and fully set you free!
1. God Has Your Best Interest at Heart. Always.
Although not all of us share the same religious beliefs, according to Pew Research, nine out of every 10 Americans still believe in a higher power; something that is bigger and far greater than they are. That said, one popular saying that drives me absolutely batty is, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." Umm, the God who the Bible says can top all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21) is gonna close a door and then downgrade? Uh-uh. If a door gets shut, only a bigger one is headed your way!
I know what it's like to be blindsided, disappointed or just totally knocked out for the count. But if there is one free-setting truth that you can—and should—hold on to, it's the fact that God is not going to allow something to leave you without replacing it with something better. Maybe not immediately but when the time is right. And best. According to Him—first.
2. You Are the Only “You” There Has Ever Been and Will Ever Be
Le sigh. I know parents who tell their children things like, "There is always going to be prettier or smarter than you." Listen, I was a child once and there is nothing even remotely comforting or beneficial about taking that approach to a little one's self-esteem. Besides, it ain't even true. Each of us are individuals and, there never was and never will be someone who is exactly like us. This means that no, there isn't someone who can top you because you are an original. That makes you totally incomparable.
And since there is nothing or no one like you, why in the world would you want to settle for anything or someone who doesn't honor you as such?
3. Self-Love Doesn’t Just Set the Bar; It Raises It Too
When you have a big personality or a strong voice, people don't get that you can still struggle with low self-esteem. Whenever I'm asked to explain how that is possible, I usually say something along the lines of, "Just because I don't care what you think, that doesn't automatically mean I think highly of myself." And when you don't think highly of yourself, you tend to do something else that I sometimes say—"You only end up bending over backwards when your bar is too low."
If there's one thing that "settlers" have in common with one another, it's the fact that they don't love themselves enough. Self-love isn't about taking selfies every day or posting quotes on the topic to social media every chance you get. When I think of self-love, the Love Chapter in the Bible (I Corinthians 13) is what immediately comes to mind. It's about being patient, kind and "never failing" your own self before trying to extend those graces to others.
Take it from me, when you love yourself, it's very hard to settle for less than you deserve. You love yourself too much to dishonor your being in that fashion.
4. Fulfilling Your Purpose Should Never Be Up for Negotiation
Purpose is a pretty loaded word. But a simple way to define it is "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc." Recently, I was doing a premarital counseling session with a couple. It is obvious that they love each other very much. Still, I encouraged them to pump the brakes a bit because the wife-to-be is not very supportive of her fiancé's purpose. She was more into him doing what makes more money rather than what leaves him truly fulfilled.
If you've been used to settling for so long that you don't even know what kind of red flags to look out for, this is a blaring one. Avoid ANYONE and ANYTHING who encourages—and by "encourage", what I really mean is tempt—you to not thrive in your purpose. The right man, the right job, the right church, the right job—one way that you will truly know that all of these things are indeed right for you is if they support you in fulfilling your purpose. If they don't and you remain…you already know what you're doing to yourself.
5. If It Doesn’t Make You Better, You Don’t Need It
Let me put a disclaimer up on this one. Some things that challenge you or make you uncomfortable will still ultimately make you a better person, so don't take this to mean that you should run from every person, place, thing or idea that doesn't make you feel good all of the time. What I'm saying is, if you're involved in or even merely entertaining something or someone and you can't think of even one way that they are improving your way of life—or worse, they are making it worse—you need to let it/them go. Stat.
This is kind of where the whole "some things are for a reason, season or lifetime" statement comes into play. I know of one relationship, in particular, that was really sending me through it for a season. But it also caused me to do some serious self-evaluating and growing. Once I realized what that person was there to teach me, it was time to move on. How could I tell? Because it got to a point where I could no longer see any silver-lining-reasons for keeping them in my life; things stopped being growing pains and started becoming straight-up painful.
If you see your character becoming better via something or someone, that's a good thing. But if you're starting to question your worth or value, or you feel like you're simply wasting a colossal amount of time remaining stuck, this is one more sign that you are settling.
6. When It’s Right, Your Mind, Body and Spirit Will Be in Harmony
I'm a firm believer that our beings are trinities in the sense that our mind, body and spirit were designed to be in sync with one another. That's why, it's important to pay attention to what all three of them have to "say" about the decisions that we make. Your mind may want a particular kind of food, but what does your body have to say about it? Your body may want a certain man, but is your spirit sending up red flags?
It might sound cliché to let peace be your guide in everything that you do, but believe me when I tell you that there is a ton of truth to that. I don't care what person, place, thing or idea that you're seriously considering, if all "three of you" cannot unanimously agree that it's a good idea…something is…up. And by that I mean that something is setting you up to let you down.
7. Love Does Not Hurt. Faith Is Not Blind.
I am a spiritual—and Scriptural—person. And so, it irritates me to no end whenever I hear people say things like love hurts or faith is blind. The Bible tells us that God is love (I John 4:7-11) and, as far as faith goes, it's a spiritual principle too (Hebrews 11:1); it's not about aimlessly moving about in this world, but trusting in a higher Source that, if you don't get what you want, things will work out for the best (which is the textbook definition of hope and you can't have faith without hope being involved).
So, if you know that God is love and that He loves you, and that, at the end of the day, if you don't get what you want, it will still all work out for your good, how could you possibly want to settle for less?
8. You Were Made to Be a Haven of Passion and Peace (Both. Not Either Or.)
On the surface, this might seem like an odd one, but just hear me out for a sec. When you think of passion, what comes to mind? Powerful emotions? Strong desires? Great sex? All of these things are good, but in the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins."
I can't tell you how many times I remained in a toxic relationship because a man made me climb the walls or how many poor business decisions I made because, while an opportunity to get my writing out may have sounded good, I didn't pay attention to financial red flags (like a company's reputation for not paying on time or not reading contracts before signing them).
Many of us feel like passion and peace are polar opposites, but that's not the case at all. One of the best ways to know if something you're passionate about is truly right for you is it will create an element of peace in all other areas of your life.
Passion and peace aren't enemies. They are accountability partners that help us to keep everything in balance.
9. Settling Is Always About Accepting Less Than You Deserve
I can't tell you how many people—men and women alike—have stayed in the most ridiculous relationships based on the twisted logic of, "I've put all of this time into it and I'm afraid this might be my last shot." Last shot at…what? Remaining in something mediocre when you could be in something fabulous?
"Deserve" is an interesting word. It can mean that we are worthy of a reward or a punishment. What I've come to realize is our self-esteem levels oftentimes dictate what we truly believe that we are deserving of.
When you think highly of yourself, you tend to believe that you are worthy of the best. When you think the opposite, you settle.
And trust me, based on what you settle for, it can end up feeling just like life is punishing you. If you know that you don't feel as good about yourself as you should, take some time out to focus on nothing other than self-care. Once you start investing in yourself more, your standards and expectations will rise and settling will be less of an issue for you.
10. A Life Full of Dignity Is a Life Well-Lived
Dignity. It's one of those words that doesn't come up much. Oh, but it should. When you live with dignity, it means that you have self-respect and that you treat yourself like you are worthy. It also means that you are a person of character. If you are dignified, you tend to only want to be treated in a dignified manner.
So, if you're like Pauletta (from Being Mary Jane) was, and you're known to put Post-it Notes all around your home, this week, make sure to put "dignity" on one of them.
Maybe hop on Etsy and get a T-shirt with a Scripture that references that very point on it (there's a cool one here). A lot of people settle for less because they forget to apply self-respect to what presents itself to them—person, place, thing or idea. But believe me, the moment that you do, that "settle thing" will become less and less of a lifestyle pattern.
You'll be willing to wait for what will honor you, just as much as you already honor yourself.
Featured image by Getty Images