Five Words That Will Change Your Life

A five-word epiphany on finding happiness and fulfillment.

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Photo credit: Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

By Thomas G. Fiffer

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

— Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

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I know. The headline reads like clickbait. But I promise you this, and I don’t promise lightly: The five words you are about to read hold the power to change your life — that is, if you choose to let them. I know, because they changed mine.

Only stay where you’re valued.

♦◊♦

These words express a simple premise, but one that is perhaps the most difficult to adhere to, and especially hard for anyone who — as a child or adult — has been made to feel broken and unworthy. The challenge of following this rule is twofold: first to recognize devaluing relationships — at work, in friendships, at home, even with ourselves; and second to summon the courage to leave.

Only stay where you’re valued.

What are the signs of a devaluing relationship? They can be obvious or subtle and insidious. If your partner, friend, or boss talks down to you, insults you, bullies or intimidates you, and otherwise treats you like a worthless piece of crap, it’s clear you’re being devalued, though you may try to deny it because it doesn’t align with your sense of who you are. It’s harder to see devaluing behavior when you’re under-appreciated, undermined, unsupported, and taken for granted by someone who signs your paycheck or treats you like one. Being devalued is often less about what’s being done to you than about what’s left undone or withheld, the absent gratitude, the praise that’s never spoken, and we often get used to living on scraps, awaiting a feast that will never be served.

Only stay where you’re valued.

Being employed does not mean you’re valued.

Being in a relationship does not mean you’re valued.

Being financially supported does not mean you’re valued.

Being taken care of does not mean you’re valued.

Being made love to does not mean you’re valued.

Being told you’re beautiful does not mean you’re valued.

Being put on a pedestal does not mean you’re valued.

Being called on for every crisis does not mean you’re valued.

Being told you are loved does not mean you’re valued.

Being loved for what you give and not for who you are does not mean you’re valued.

Only stay where you’re valued.

Learn to distinguish being used from being valued.

When you feel depleted, diminished, and discouraged, you’re being used.

When you feel enriched, empowered, and encouraged, you’re valued.

When your contributions are unseen, unmentioned, and unrewarded, you’re being used.

When your contributions are acknowledged, appreciated, and advertised, you’re valued.

Listen quietly to your heart, and you’ll know if you’re valued.

Only stay where you’re valued.

Our sense of self-worth does not depend on the estimation of others. We are all worthy. But our feelings of happiness and contentment center on knowing intellectually and feeling on a deep emotional level that we matter, that our life brings value to other people.

Only stay where you’re valued.

When you spend time in a devaluing relationship, you become convinced that no one will value you. This makes it difficult to walk away. You think things can only get worse, that the devaluing situation is the best you can do — and the best you deserve. Walking away takes strength, belief in yourself, resolve to move forward, and the courage to take a risk. It also requires the awareness that the risk of being continually reduced is nothing less than personal evaporation.

When you walk away, you might be alone for a while. But the odds are good you’ll find something better. And to that I say, “Deal me in.”

This post was previously published on The Good Men Project.

We're having a conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Main site is https://goodmenproject.com Email us info@goodmenproject.com

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