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Owning Your Worth

cat77.jpg (5847 bytes) Owning Your Worth

by Dr. Irene

Jerome was complaining about his elusive girlfriend: despite her inability to commit, he waited for her. And waited... So, what's the problem? Is he a loser? Hardly!

This young man Has It All: he is poised, successful, handsome, and has solid values. (Hey, Jerome - wanna meet my pretty, sweet little cousin?)  But he has one minor flaw: he is too nice!  Just a touch of codependence in a person who is otherwise self-assured and in charge.

This tendency is very common; the degree varies. "J" has it. So does Kristin, though both are improving. "Owning your worth" is what I call the ability to seamlessly and subtly assert your self worth in the myriad of second-to-second interactions life presents us with daily. These seemingly unimportant interpersonal exchanges are in fact BIG. They help shape other individuals' perceptions of who we are and how we will be treated. When we own our worth, we are less likely to end up feeling angry, frustrated, helpless, or used.

"Nice" people don't understand why they need to protect their worth. They rarely intrude upon another's space, and don't understand people who do. Yet they are drawn to people who make a fuss. They respect them and often tread lightly around them.

Jerome experienced feelings of frustration and anger with Jenny. He described the time she came to his place and "cooked," or, more accurately, sprinkled his kitchen with grease, flour, and various other goodies. A gentleman, Jerome let it go and picked up after her later. But similar incidents took place repeatedly.  One day he finally told her to clean up her act. Jenny was incensed. "How DARE you talk to me like that!" To this day, she has not let him forget his "over-reaction." (Which probably was an over-reaction since the longer one waits to express anger, the bigger it grows.) Yet, she fails to recognize her own over-reaction in grabbing her stuff and storming out.

Step on Jenny's toes and there is an immediate reaction: Go No Further! Step on Jerome's toes and he "understands," until he understands no more and lets you have it.

There is some truth to the old adage, "Nice guys finish last." Look at the albeit extreme example of what happens to the selfless, loving person who becomes involved with a not-so-selfless other (e.g., read about victims of verbal abuse).