Have you ever thought that you might be an “Emotional Underearner?” How would you even know that you were?
It has a lot to do with ROEI – that is, Return On Emotional Investment. Suppose you wear yourself out working as hard as you possibly can on your relationship, and in return your partner takes you for granted, criticizes, or simply overlooks you. You do your darnedest to meet other people’s needs, and yet other people (like your partner, children, and family) completely disregard your needs.
If that sound like you, then let’s dig a little deeper. You wear yourself out doing everything you possibly can for your spouse, second-guessing their every want and need. They tell you, often in so many words, that you have:
a) not done enough
b) disappointed them.
So what do you do? You tell yourself that their dissatisfaction is your fault. You tell yourself that either you are “not good enough”, or need to do still more. Does that sound familiar?
The notion of the Emotional Underearner grew out of reading Barbara Stanny’s “The Secrets Of Six Figure Women”, a book about what really differentiates high earning women from women who barely get by.
Stanny’s argument is an interesting one: the different groups’ results, she argues, have nothing to do with either effort or education. Underearners, she observes, can work as hard as Six Figure Women, and yet have no money, or success, to show for it. She suggests that what sets the two groups apart is simply this: Six Figure Women share certain winning strategies and beliefs, while “Underearners” share beliefs, values, attitudes, and strategies that consistently undermine all their efforts.
Even more interesting is her discovery that there is no uncrossable divide between the two groups. Underearners can move into the Six Figure group, simply by adopting more productive strategies and beliefs.
This got me thinking that, quite possibly, women – and men – whose partners make them feel inadequate, are simply Emotional Underearners.
You see, Emotional Underearners work far harder at relationships than do their successful sisters, and brothers. Yet the results they achieve are dismal.
All the effort they put into their relationships never gets translated into being treated with consistent love, care and respect. They are left with little, or nothing, to show for all that they do for their partners (and sometimes, also, for other people in their life.)
If you accept that this is true – and how could you do otherwise? – this is where it gets interesting.
In the same way that Underearners can – and do – transform themselves into Six Figure Women, so, too, can Emotional Underearners cross that gulf and move from bad relationships to good ones. Once they discover how to adopt the strategies and beliefs etc. of their much more emotionally successful sisters, or brothers.
But don’t take my word for it. You be the judge. Take a look at the quiz below, and judge for yourself whether it resonates with you.
QUIZ: ARE YOU AN EMOTIONAL UNDEREARNER?
- I often give away my time, energy, services (doing more for people than they ever acknowledge).
- It’s so hard to ask for what I need that I just don’t do it.
- I have negative feelings about myself, and my value in a relationship.
- I am proud of my ability to make do with very little.
- Someone else is generally responsible for my unhappiness.
- I prefer to avoid confronting the problems in my relationship.
- I sometimes sabotage myself.
- I work very, very hard at my relationships, often to the point of exhaustion.
- My free time is spent putting other people, chiefly my partner, first.
- I have no boundaries and very few reserves of emotional energy.
- I have a family history of not mattering very much to anyone.
- I am vague about what I want from my partner. I want the relationship to be better; but I don’t know exactly what it will take to make it better, what I need to do, or what my partner needs to do.
- I almost always put my partner’s needs and demands before my own.
- I am frequently anxious, stressed, and in emotional pain.
- Receiving crumbs of affection is more important to me than taking the risk of alienating loved ones by asking for respect, consideration, and self-worth.
How many of these would you need to agree with to be an Emotional Underearner? Three would already provide you with a clear indication.
How many of these do you actually agree with? Five or more, and you need to acknowledge the seriousness of this damaging condition.
Now that you have discovered that you are an Emotional Underearner, will you be willing to settle for a ridiculously low ROEI? Or will you decide to cross the divide and join the ranks of the Emotionally Successful?