Settling For Less

Posted by on Oct 1, 2005 in Success!Ezine For You





E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2005

Are you settling for less? Many people remain stuck in less than satisfactory relationships – both in their careers and personal lives – because they dread the hard work required to make a change and often are afraid to take risks. They hold onto jobs that are not making good use of their talents and abilities and have a litany of complaints about why they are unhappy. But, these folks make excuses for why they can’t look for another job. The timing is not right, they might lose some fringe benefits, have to wait until their children are older. They wind up becoming resentful, bitter employees who have failed to grow professionally.

In their personal lives, these individuals make similar choices to remain in relationships that are minimally gratifying. They insist that they’ve “been everywhere” looking for a better match, so convince themselves that it is true that “a good man is hard to find” or that “career women don’t want to settle down”, for example. They soon find themselves explaining away the negative characteristics of dates who don’t really appeal to them but who are available. Before long, they are putting up with looks, attitudes, and/or behaviors that grate on their nerves. To reduce this stress, they make another psychological shift to rationalize why they should be tolerant of these things, such as “Looks don’t really matter anyway, it’s what’s inside that counts.” or “It’s not good to have someone paying attention to you all the time when they should be focusing on their career.” or “Who needs all those high society events anyway? It’s more fun just to rent a movie and chill.” These rationalizations help to keep from feeling the pain of remaining in a relationship that is not meeting their needs. It helps them to cope, but does not allow them to grow.

Major assault to the ego is experienced when these relationships don’t work out. They are shocked when given a negative evaluation in that “piddling” job. They can’t believe that the “know-nothing” supervisor would have the audacity to find fault with them. Similarly, they are outraged when the “better-than-nobody” date doesn’t call or follow-through with plans. They may fall apart completely when this date decides to stop calling at all. “The nerve!” they cry, in disbelief that they are being deemed unacceptable by the very individual or job they felt superior to.

And that’s the problem. You might feel inner satisfaction for a while by pumping up your ego and believing that you are the “superior” one, but this won’t last. You’ll stop using those advanced skills as often as you should because they probably won’t be needed or valued on your current job. Eventually your smugness and bitterness will start seeping through, typically in attitudes or behaviors that others find sarcastic and condescending. In your personal life, you won’t go to places or have the type of experiences you otherwise might because your mate can’t relate to them, afford them, or appreciate them. The feelings of superiority you get from being the one to expose him or her to such things may be great for their growth and development but isn’t doing anything for yours! Besides, generally they are quite content with themselves as they are, which is what causes them to “knock you off your high horse” to see and do things their way, or to terminate the relationship eventually.

This is your life and you deserve the best. This doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want entirely, but don’t be so quick to settle just because the going is hard and involves some risk. Yes, you might experience some failure on a job that is more challenging. Yes, you might be rejected by several “movers and shakers” before you find a compatible mate. You’re going to be in these relationships for a long time, so you want them to be stimulating, uplifting, and sources of great pride. Not those that cause you to say to yourself as well as to others – “I could be doing better, but….”


About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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