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What do you believe you deserve in life? Maybe you think that half a loaf is better than none, that you should be grateful for what you have because other people have it far worse, that if you simply ignore what’s lacking in your life and concentrate on what’s right, you’ll be fine. There’s nothing wrong with any of these perspectives—except if you use them to justify staying in a situation in which you’re habitually unhappy.

Whether or not you believe it, you deserve to be happy and successful, not of course every minute of every day, but in general, most of the time. You deserve to be treated with respect, to lead a meaningful life, to make your own goals and find appropriate ways to meet them, to have love and human affection, to live in peace and harmony with intimates, to receive support for becoming a healthier person, to be taken care of when you want care and to be left alone when you don’t, and to be free of being shamed, humiliated, berated, ignored, undermined, used, abused, and neglected. You need not be anyone or anything special to merit these things; you just have to be you!

I know that many of you are miserable in your jobs and relationships. You can barely stomach your spouse, partner, roommates, boss or co-workers. Getting up and/or going to work makes you stressed and depressed. You feel stuck in an unhealthy situation, rationalize that things could be worse, and tell yourself all the reasons you can’t get out, You’re not stuck in a situation: you are trapped in a mindset of disempowerment which is too often based on not believing you deserve a better life than the one you are living.

The truth is that no one with healthy self-esteem allows herself to be chronically mistreated by anyone, nobody with solid self-worth permits herself to be victimized repeatedly by someone. You may come up with dozens of reasons why you tolerate bad behavior or an unhappy situation, but the bottom line is that you stick it out because you don’t believe you deserve better. Of course, getting out of a rut or a pit can be scary and difficult, but it’s a great deal less frightening and easier when you believe that where you’re heading is where you deserve to be.

Sometimes eating problems are a symptom of the stress you’re under and the distress you’re in, and diminish or disappear when you’re in circumstances in which you feel good about you. Other times, eating problems prevent you from focusing on what really breaks your heart and act as a distraction from your true misery. So, stop a minute and take an honest, up close look at your life and decide what you deserve.