Why Do We Settle?

English | 中文

Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. No one should. 

We hear it often enough, don’t we?

But do we really take it to heart and practice it in our daily life?

Many people settle for various reasons. Be it because of fear, or because they do not know any better.

Surprisingly, a lot of people settle for less in their relationships, marriages, jobs and etc. They do this so frequently that over time it becomes a normal part of their every day lives. In fact, they may even tell you that it is life.

I suppose if they say it often enough, they might start to believe it themselves.

So, is settling really bad for you?

Amelia Olson seems to think so.

“Settling can be mysteriously poisonous because once the initial disappointment sets in, we realize that not only do we not have what we want, we also have to maintain something we don’t genuinely care about. It’s a progressive poison that only gets worse the more we settle.” ~ Amelia Olson

Everything is about choice.

The choices we make should reflect who we are, and what we really want.

We should not think that we do not deserve to have all the wonderful things which we truly want. Be it a job promotion, a new house, or even a person we fancy.

We should not feel guilty for enjoying the things we really like. Be it a dream vacation or just taking time off to finish writing that novel.

We all deserve a fair chance to go after our highest dreams and goals. At the very least, we deserve the opportunity to find out for ourselves. It is not a self-centred attitude. It only becomes narcissistic when we think that everyone should pander to our whims, fancies and desires. And that our needs are above everyone else’s. There is a huge difference here.

A wisdom jewel from Caroline Myss ~ “It’s better to want what you don’t have than to have what you don’t want.”

We may not always get what we want, but we can make sure what we do get is what we really value in life and in ourselves.

So, to settle or not to settle – that is the question.

And only you can answer this gem of a riddle.

To be honest, the “old Shirley” settled for less. Mainly because she was too timid to stand up for what she truly believed in, too lazy to work for what her heart desired most, and was unwilling to bear the responsibility of it all. It was convenient and comfortable for her to depend on someone else to do the job. Because when and if anything went wrong (and they did), she did not have to blame herself. So, she settled for much less at the cost of the person she was, and could have been.

After my divorce, I went into a self-imposed “exile” for over 5 years. I did not go out. I didn’t want to go out. I shut myself in and became a hermit. In all that time, I became more embittered, distraught and angry. Angry at my ex. Angry at the situation. I was angry at myself most of all. Because I knew I should have done it much earlier, and dealt with it in a better way. However, I was too ill-equipped to deal with the realities of my life back then.

I was also too ashamed to meet anyone – be it friends, relatives or family. I did not know how to answer their probing questions about why, what and how. I found them all to be overwhelming because I did not have the answers myself. Although I was the one who initiated the divorce, I didn’t know how to cope with the aftermath. Many people tried to reach out to me, but I just couldn’t respond. So, I locked myself in and drowned in my depression to the point of suicidal. In a way, I was punishing myself for breaking up my own family and my daughter’s heart. I had actually believed that I did not deserve to be happy.

That was my guilt’s knee-jerk reaction. Despite knowing that the divorce was the right and best decision for me, it did not stop me reeling from the guilt and shame. It took me a long time to make peace with it.

The truth is, I was stuck in a marriage that was no longer compatible with my values system, moral code and highest aspirations.

I had to step back from the situation, and looked at it from an impersonal perspective. I had to ask myself – if I were not the spouse of this person but just another individual, would I agree with his choices and actions? Would his behaviour make me proud or disgust me? Would I even respect him, and continue to tolerate his behaviour? Usually, we would endure because we want to remain loyal to our spouses or partners, or Significant Others. However, if our spouses, partners or Significant Others are no longer people we admire, respect or even agree with as an individual – then it may be time to figure out the real reason why. So, I did. And I found that I could not reconcile my values system, moral code and highest aspirations with his. In fact, his went against mine. I did try to give him the benefit of the doubt, and even tried to help him. However, he chose very differently. As an individual, I would not have tolerated in the least. Then I had to ask myself, as a wife, would I? Could I?

At the end of the day, how we are as an individual is the core of who we are. The roles we play in life should uphold the people we are – be it as a wife/husband, sister/brother, daughter/son, mother/father, or colleague. Hence, I had to make the hardest decision of my life. If you had read my post, Feeling the Fear is Human, you would understand how much courage it took for me to arrive at that decision.

Sometimes the right thing may turn out to be the most painful thing. It is like cutting into a wound to remove the poison from one’s body. It is excruciating, disruptive and hard but absolutely necessary. Such was the case for me and my divorce. It took breaking apart in order for me to become whole again.

When we know better, we can definitely shorten the unnecessary suffering.

When we are wiser, we can even transform the suffering into a valuable learning experience and grow from it.

I am glad to say that the “new Shirley” is very different.

I am not deterred by mistakes or flaws, especially my own. I know I have the ability to remedy them. I don’t shun responsibility but seek to be accountable for myself. Because no one would know what I am capable of and what I truly want, but myself. It is my job to live my life fully and meaningfully according to my terms. It is not someone else’s job to do it for me. These days, I create my own happiness with whoever I meet and in everything that I do. However, I am very discerning about who I allow into my private space and I am selective about who I work with. My priorities and decisions reflect my values system, moral code, highest aspirations and passions. I no longer tolerate people or things which go against the fundamentals of humanity, peace, justice and harmony. I don’t need to.

Happiness becomes a conscious choice, and is not dependent on a person, a mood, or a situation.

Each day, we make more than a dozen choices. Some of these choices may have helped us move forward, while others may have landed us in hot water. Whatever it is, please realize that we can replace a bad choice by making a better one. It is not the end of the world.

First and foremost, always find out what do you really want out of life and what do you truly want from yourself.

Then ask, what is stopping you from achieving those things for yourself?

The next question will be, what will you do and how much will you sacrifice in order to accomplish those things?

Spend some time contemplating on the above questions. Get honest with yourself. Above all, dig deep to find the real answers.

As I have explained in my previous post, Successful Single Women – Every journey has its own costs and benefits. There is a price to everything. Even love and happiness. This is applicable to everyone and not just women.

Only you will know what is worthwhile. Only you can decide how much you are willing to suffer for it.

No matter what we choose, we must be prepared to work for it.

There is no such thing as a free pass. Once you have decided on something, you have to commit to it. You have to invest real time and effort to make it happen. As stated in my previous post, How Getting Stuff Done Today impacts your Future, it is about getting shit done. What we do today will determine the outcome of our tomorrow. So, do it right and well.

In the case of love and happiness – yes, finding someone who will love us back as deeply and faithfully as we love them is not easy. But, becoming someone who can be loved isHence, please become someone who is loving and valuable. 

Do not resign from love, just because we have been hurt or cheated before. Not every man or woman is bad. So, don’t judge someone new based on the people who have disappointed us in the past. By all means, be smart and careful. But don’t close yourself up and assume that everyone is not worth your time or attention. Give someone a chance to get to know you, as much as you need to get to know him or her. Do take the time to really find out the core of that person’s character, and what inspires him or her. Is he or she the kind of person who would do the right thing, even when no one is looking? You’ll want to find out sooner rather than later.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ~ Maya Angelou

Do not withdraw from life, just because we no longer know what joy looks or feels like. Don’t shut yourself in, or everyone out. Most of all, don’t get stuck with thinking that the world would not understand you, or accept you as you are. Go out and meet people. Do stuff. Learn new skills, or pick up a hobby. You can even volunteer at a shelter or do other forms of community work. Whatever it is, do something positive and beneficial for yourself. Don’t just give up on life, or yourself. We let go of the bad habits or caustic people in our lives, but we never give up the good in life or in ourselves.

Do not compromise your values system, moral compass, highest aspirations and who you truly are for anyone or anything. Hold onto your dignity and integrity. Because no matter what transpires you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are, or who you have become.

There are many ways to live a happy fulfilling life. And not everyone will take the same route.

There are many ways to experience love and give love. It does not have to be romantic love.

We really do not have to wait until we fall in love with someone to start loving and living.

We can do it now and begin from where we are.

Just open your heart and give love to a friend, a pet, a sibling, a worthy cause, your child, parent, someone in need, or to yourself.

You have the power to brighten up someone’s day with your kindness or smile. 

Don’t close your heart just because true love has not come in the form of the right person.

Don’t be stingy with your care. Share and give love by doing simple every day tasks with great love.

We can embody love in our speech, actions and thoughts every single day.

In this way, we become L.O.V.E.

In this way, we are LOVE.

This is how we can make a real difference to the lives around us, including our own.

By being better versions of ourselves each and every single day, we can even make ourselves happier.

Each of us has the right to create the lifestyle that best suits us. We do not have to settle for anything less if we do not want to. It is entirely up to us.

We owe it ourselves to find out what is best for us, to live it out and embrace it.

We are all worthy of love and happiness.

We all deserve to live the life we dream. 

Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

  • Carol Balawyder
    January 10, 2015

    Shirley, your post is overflowing with fantastic information. Amelia Olson’s quote brought a smile to my face:
    “…that not only do we not have what we want, we also have to maintain something we don’t genuinely care about.” Fair warning! 🙂

    Also, I liked: “It is my job to live my life fully and meaningfully according to my terms.” and everything else that followed in your post. Such encouraging words.

    And liked:

    ” I no longer tolerate people or things which go against the fundamentals of humanity, peace, justice and harmony. I don’t need to.” Isn’t that true freedom?

    Happy Weekend to you. 🙂


    • shirleymaya
      August 22, 2015

      Hi Carol, hope all is well with you. I am sorry that I missed replying to your comment here. Thank you for your constant supportive words. Means a lot to me. Have a fabulous weekend. Big hugs and love x

  • dougstuber
    January 13, 2015

    Paradelle for James

    Routine runs to laugh behind the flake-barked tree.
    Routine runs to laugh behind the flake-barked tree.
    Whitey, my son’s dog, darts to freedom, breaks his heart.
    Whitey, my son’s dog, darts to freedom, breaks his heart.
    Whitey barked “freedom,” breaks routine, the darts flake.
    My son’s laugh, his heart behind, runs to the dog tree.
    Thick lips expect extra attention when cold weather arrives.
    Thick lips expect extra attention when cold weather arrives.
    He is so pure he gets awards that proclaim “angelic.”
    He is so pure he gets awards that proclaim “angelic.”
    Angelic lips proclaim extra weather. He arrives, gets attention.
    That cold, so thick: expect awards when he is pure.
    He always asks questions that stimulate even this old mind.
    He always asks questions that stimulate even this old mind.
    When spring arrives we throw balls, talk sports, eat strawberries.
    When spring arrives we throw balls, talk sports, eat strawberries.
    Always stimulate balls that mind strawberries. This spring, when
    He asks, throw old questions, mind sports, talk, even eat.
    He runs, asks routine questions, gets extra freedom, balls behind
    Strawberries’ pure lips. Expect to laugh, Whitey to stimulate
    Spring to sports. The flake always arrives. This old dog barked.
    Cold weather breaks his heart, thick mind darts, my
    Son’s always angelic. Proclaim when tree awards attention.
    When we throw, talk, eat, he is so that, he even that.

  • Agnes
    February 4, 2015

    Woow! This is a shower of tips and knowledge to everyone…you are soo amazing! It so helpful! Thank you so much making these kind of stuff. So brilliant!

    • shirleymaya
      February 5, 2015

      Thank you, Agnes. I am glad you find them useful. Have a fabulous day! 🙂