Self-Truths That Will Stop You From Settling For Less


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.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Your Self Worth Determines Your Net Worth

Know Your Worth: When Is It Time To Walk Away?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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