Quite Continental Charm School: Day 14 – Know Your Worth

11/03/2013 § 5 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: Know Your Worth

Harry Winston’s rough stone expert Daniel Frey examines a 426-carat diamond called “The Unnamed,” in 1956.  At the time, the stone was the ninth largest on record and at a price of $8.4 million dollars, the largest diamond sale to date.  The stone eventually went on to become the Niarchos Diamond.  You can read about the stone and Harry Winston’s plans to cut and sell the diamond here.  Photograph by Ralph Morse for Life Magazine.

“We cannot think of being acceptable to others
until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”
-Malcolm X

Day 14: Know Your Worth
Recently, in the context of witty cocktail banter and getting-to-know-yous, I was asked to name my biggest failure. While the answer that bounded forth – not being born an heiress – was technically true (apologies to Mom and Dad), the question stayed with me in the days after and I noticed that I was searching my soul for a deeper answer. As I sorted through all of my shoulda, coulda, wouldas, I realized that my biggest shortcoming was not a test I failed or a school I didn’t get into or a bad investment choice. Rather, in my heart of hearts, what I considered to be my biggest failure was something I had repeatedly done to myself within the context of my interpersonal relationships.

For some people, it seems practically second nature for them to identify their needs and then ask for them to be fulfilled. They ask their managers for a raise because they deserve more pay for their contributions at work. They ask their partners for better communication. They ask their friends for help through a difficult time. These are people I tend to envy because historically, it’s proven difficult at times for me to identify, let alone voice, the things I need.

This lead to spending a considerable amount of time in relationships, both personal and professional, where I wasn’t receiving what I needed, but I was hesitant to speak up. But why? Why did I accept something that was unacceptable, when I knew deep down that I needed more? Why did I always try to love – or work – myself through the subpar environment, hoping that fate would finally deal me a more favorable card? And while the relationships I speak of in this context were all very different, each with different circumstances and players, and occurred at different stages of my life, I don’t think that it was simply a random result of bad luck. While I can’t explain to you why others treated me the way they did, I definitely believe one of the reasons I kept sticking around has to do with what I thought I deserved.

Self-worth can be a tricky thing to monitor. It’s not like there’s an index that you can check every morning to see how it happens to be fluctuating or a bank account you can easily transfer funds into when you’re a bit low. Instead, I find my thoughts about my own value are most frequently triggered by negative experiences or conditions, and it is my response (or lack thereof) that has a direct impact on my internal barometer.  Taking ownership of my self-worth, instead of appraising myself in relation to how others treat me, has been a remarkably empowering process.

Today, I want us to work on valuing ourselves. Everyone deserves all the happiness and love and friendship and success that their hearts can hold and that you shouldn’t accept anything less.  No matter what you might have experienced in the past, you are worth someone’s very best today. But also remember that this probably won’t happen if you just sit there and wish for it. So when that internal voice points out that your needs aren’t being met in a personal (or professional) relationship, you owe it to yourself to honor that feeling and to clearly ask for what you need, as difficult as that may be. Speak plainly and calmly and choose a time to broach the subject when you feel your audience is receptive. Avoid blaming; instead, talk about how you feel now and how you would like to feel in the future.

There is a very good chance that your partner/father/coworker/friend has no idea what you’re missing, and would do whatever they could to make sure you received it – but if you don’t give them that chance to meet you halfway, they very likely won’t. I’m definitely guilty of this. I can’t tell you why in the past I thought that my partners should intuit what I wanted and needed out of a relationship, but I can tell you that when they didn’t read my mind (surprise, surprise) I would get frustrated, and that frustration would silently fester until it ripened into resentment — a stealthy silent killer of intimacy.

Consequently, you’ve got to be patient, but honest. Granted, it takes time to change behavior, but if after you’ve clearly communicated your needs you find the other party unwilling – or perhaps unable – to rise to the occasion, you have to admit that to yourself and remember that you deserve exactly as much success, love and support as you need.  Just because you aren’t currently being fulfilled, doesn’t mean it’s your fault or what you deserve.  There is someone somewhere who will happily provide exactly what you want and need, and you’ve got to value yourself enough to make yourself available. Deciding to stick around, unsatisfied, means that you are closing yourself off from finding that happiness and I’m definitely hard pressed to think of anything less charming than that.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

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§ 5 Responses to Quite Continental Charm School: Day 14 – Know Your Worth

  • Gail Keefe says:

    That’s very good advice, my dear!

    Love,
    Gail

  • you’re so cool mariah!

  • Two things:

    1.) I like your new font.

    2.) I’m so envious of people who can ask for what they need/want without trepidation. As I dig out of my post-partum depression I’ve only recently started asking my husband pointedly for things that I need, big and small. And my baby is 16 months old! I’m still working on summoning the courage to ask things of people who are less invested in my happiness, so to speak.

    This is a nosy question, I’m sorry…but I’m curious to know if your realization here is related to some difficulties you’ve alluded to lately? I hope that you’ve been able to take matters into your own hands and let others help you find that happiness again =)

    Thanks so much for writing about this. Love and hugs to you!

    • Hello there Emily, and thanks very much for noticing my new font! I felt it was high time I freshened up the blog and I am happy you like it.

      First, I am really proud of you for being courageous enough to communicate about your needs. For those of us who don’t instinctively “ask,” it can seem so scary at first, but trust me when I say that it definitely gets easier with practice. Second, I want you to stop beating yourself up about how you are feeling post-baby. Having to deal with the tumult of emotions and changes and joy and frustration that can come after having a child is difficult enough, you deserve a break! There is no timeline or cutoff when you are supposed to magically feel fine (or “normal”). Honor your feelings and focus on the steps forward. Progress is progress, no matter how small.

      And, there aren’t any nosy questions! Incidentally, this post isn’t directly related to the recent events, but rather, thoughts I have been having about my relationships, past and present, my own personal growth, and the happiness I have in my life right now. Opening myself up to receive more has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I really hope you will feel the same way.

      Be well! xoxo.

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