Self-Esteem’s Nemesis: “Deserve”


If I could give only one piece of insight to a person asking me about Self-Esteem and Self-Worth it would be this:  Swap the word “deserve” for “worth” in your vocabulary.

It’s a simple distinction verbally, and yet within our amazing mind’s and bodies, the difference is like night and day.

The Danger of “Deserve” 

When we say we deserve something, no matter what “it” is, what we are really saying is that we’ve done something to earn said “it.”  Literally.  The dictionary defines deserve as: [verb] “do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment)”

Basically, when we use the word “deserve” we’re are teaching our bodies, and our minds, that our worth comes from the things we do.  The way we act.  The choices we make. The amount we give.

It sets up a sort of quid pro quo within ourselves, that our value is based on giving and then receiving.  That our value exists only in relation to other external things and/or people.  That we have to give in order to have worth, and that our worth is measured by what we get back. 

In other words, we can give until we are empty, homeless, exhausted, totally depleted and if we don’t get back something that fills us up, makes us feel valuable, or is equal to the amount we’ve given then our internal belief becomes that we haven’t worked hard enough, we haven’t earned our value, and therefore we have no worth.

Scary, right?!

The Value in “Worth”

On the other hand, when we say we are “worth” something, we are saying to our minds and bodies that we, beautiful, flawed, unique, authentic us- have value, and we are worth said it.

Check out the definition for worth: [adjective] 1. are equal to particular amount 2. important enough to justify something

Do ya see the difference?

When we are worth something, we are “important enough to justify” it.  We get to have said it because we. are. valuable.  We, us, who we are just because we are alive, have value.  We are important.  We matter.

We are worth being treated with respect.

We are worth having nice things happen to us.

We are worth being paid attention to.

We are worth being loved.

We are worthy of love from ourselves.  From our families.  From life.  We, just as we are, not because of what we do, are worth love.

So, start Today.  Start the process of learning to see your value by removing the word “deserve” from your vocabulary, and embracing your worth.  You, yes YOU, are important enough to justify this swap. You matter.  You are worth love.



“3 Simple Rules in Life:” How They Can Help Improve Self-Esteem

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Growth, change, healing, self-worth all require these 3 rules.  There is a common misconception that self-esteem is something we are born with;  that we either have it or we don’t.   The truth is self-esteem is earned, created, developed, strengthened, and worked for.   Our self-worth is like any muscle in our bodies, it has to be used and pushed to get stronger.

These “3 Simple Rules in Life” are great reminders of the steps and effort that self-esteem require.

1.  Deciding what we want and then going for it are key steps to increasing self-esteem and satisfaction in life.  The key is being aware that we will hit some bumps in the road along the way.  Personal growth and increased self-worth come from surviving the bumps, not giving up, and finding a way to create success in the face of challenge.  Through struggle we grow!  Sometimes we can learn more from our misses than we do from our successes.  Going for it is what’s ultimately important for our self-worth.

2.Voicing our wants, desires, interests, curiosities, and hopes is how those things become reality.  And as far as your self-esteem goes this is a win-win situation!  Standing up for yourself, realizing and expressing your want(s) strengthens your self-esteem on its own.  Then, either getting or not getting your want gives us new opportunities to further develop self-esteem.  Either by celebrating our success or by giving us a chance to redefine what we want and how we go after it.

3. I like to use a quote by Samwise Gamgee in Lord or the Rings when tackling this step with my clients, “one more step and I’ll be one step further away from home then I’ve ever been before.”  Self-worth isn’t created over night, but it also doesn’t just show up knocking at your door.  We have to take steps, usually baby steps, to strengthen and change our self-worth.  Growing is not comfortable, growing is pushing past our point of comfort to something new; it’s taking just one step farther from home then we’ve ever been before.

How can you use these “3 simple rules” to help strengthen your self-esteem?



Are You “Should-ing” All Over Your Relationship?


I am in the middle of reading an amazing book, I Thought it Was Just Me (but it’s not): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power by Brene Brown.  Brene Brown is a researcher who has spent the last 10 years studying women and shame.  In her book, Brene primarily focuses on how shame effects, influences women.  For me, as a couple’s counselor, I can’t help but make the connections between shame and relationships.

One aspect that Brene explores, that specifically relates to relationships, is how shame is all about perception; shame is how we see ourselves, and our relationships, from other people’s perspective.  In other words, we base what we “should” and/or “shouldn’t”do around what other people might think of us.

“The Should-ing”

We all have “should’s” in our lives.  We start learning them before we can even talk.  We learn ways that we “should” eat, play, wash, talk, study, work, manage money, raise our kids, clean our house, choose a car to drive, or a book to read, or a wine to purchase, or which extra activities we participate in, and even how to show our love and appreciate for others.  Really, the list could go on forever!  It becomes so second nature for us to “should” ourselves, that sometimes we forgot to stop and figure out if the “should” is even what we want.

I see this all the time with the couples I work with!  Both come into the relationship with their own “should’s” for what a successful/happy relationship looks like.  How could they not, right?  And when I ask them what they want in a relationship, they have a hard time answering, because they don’t know.

Often, we end up letting the desire to be seen as the hot, fun, most in love, magical, special, best, successful couple rule what we think we “should” do in our relationship.  Overtime, this creates disconnection and distance in our relationships, and soon our relationships becomes a “should do” like work, vs. a want to do.

The Good News

The good news is that we can change this!   Just like there isn’t one perfect profession for everyone, there isn’t one perfect relationship model for everyone either.  The best part of being in a relationship is that you get to create it to be whatever you want it to be!

What I mean by this….

Now, yes, there are some basic traits that successful relationships tend to have.  For example, John Gottman’s research has shown that a couple’s “ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitably in any relationship,” directly relates to the fulfillment and strength of the relationship.  So while the skill of conflict resolution is important in relationships, how you resolve conflict in your relationship is up to you.

The HOW is yours to change, create, make, tailor to you and your relationship.

It’s part of what makes relationships great, and yet we tend to forget this simple concept.  We get to create the relationship we want!  If you want to have taco Tuesday’s you can.  If you want Santa to visit your kids twice a year, guess what, you can.  If you want to plan in separate vacations each year, again, you can.  You want to resolve conflict by talking with funny accents….you can!

How you might be “should-ing” on your relationship

When our idea’s of what our relationship “should” look like, or how we “should” handle conflict, or what our partner “should” do for us comes from how we want to be perceived by others vs. what works for us, we end up “shoulding” all over our relationship.  (And let me tell you, “shoulding” feels just the way it’s similarly sounding friend {wink} feels when it happens to you!)

Here’s a simple way to figure out some of the places you may be “should-ing” on your relationship without even knowing it…

  1. List out all the things you do in your relationship.  Include work, kids, money, entertainment, vacations, house chores…. anything and every area you can think of.
  2. Put a check by all the ones you do because you feel somehow, or in some way, like you “should” do.
  3. Now, circle the ones that are left that you do just because you love them.
  4. Ask yourself if this list of circled items they way you want to live your life?  Is it enough to fulfill you?

If not, stop”should-ing” on your relationship, and start creating the relationship of your dreams, literally!