Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
February 2012



Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

The Deserving Continuum

You sit down at a table in a restaurant and the first thing you see is dried food on the knife at your place-setting. Do you ask for a new one? Do you throw a fit and storm out of the restaurant vowing to write a lousy review of the place on Yelp? Or do you look on the menu for something to order that won’t require a knife to eat?

What if you are on a gluten-free diet and can’t find anything suitable on the menu? Do you order something anyway and just hope you won’t suffer negative consequences? Do you start writing your review for Yelp while others order and you fume? Or do you ask the server if it is possible to modify something on the menu to fit your dietary needs?

Do you feel you deserve to be treated well? I believe most of us would answer this question with a fairly automatic, if not emphatic, Yes! So why then do we eat a meal that doesn’t require a knife just so we will not have to ask for a clean one? Why do we risk allergic reactions to avoid making a specific request? This example is “just” about a meal in a restaurant but it applies more globally to how we navigate our daily interactions with ourselves and with others.

Why do we allow people to treat us poorly? Why do we treat ourselves poorly? Perhaps it is a theory vs. practice issue. In theory, we may assert our right to a clean knife or to others being kind toward us. In practice, it may be a whole lot harder to advocate for this. In theory, it’s “of course, I deserve to celebrate an accomplishment.” In practice, it’s “oh, that would be way too boastful,” or “my peers will think I’m egotistical.” I have actually seen people squirm when encouraged to spend a moment to celebrate a small victory or a large salary increase.

People-pleasing is most definitely a culprit. Back to our restaurant example, you might be reluctant to pursue a clean knife or a suitable menu choice out of concern for what the wait-staff or your fellow diners will think about you. It gets even more complicated if this meal is a work-related event. You may not want a co-worker or boss to perceive you as picky or sickly. It is not entirely far-fetched to be concerned about how this display of deserving might influence how you are regarded in the workplace. Likewise, the reluctance to celebrate an accomplishment may be driven by extreme discomfort with drawing attention to yourself: what if it makes others less enamored with you? If they have previously valued your humility, oh my, how dare you have a moment in the sun?

If a solid sense of deserving is at the mid-point on a continuum with obnoxious entitlement at one end, and deprivation on the other, your path to greater joy may be accomplished by moving beyond the theory of deserving into practice! You deserve it!

Deserving Tools

If I could only put two tools in my tool box for strengthening the practice of deserving, I would first remind myself that people-pleasing doesn’t equal pleasure. It results in containment or suppression, which can easily convert into a big old pile of resentment. Second, I would repeat this fabulous quote from Wayne Dyer:

What you think of me is
none of my business

At the end of the day, if you are comfortable with who you see in the proverbial mirror, that is what counts most. Isn’t it?


But, but, but

It will undoubtedly trip us up. If we move in the direction of more deserving, we are likely to think we have crossed over to the obnoxious entitlement end of the spectrum! To counter that concern, I offer my observation that most people who are really at that end of the continuum rarely show concern about whether they are being obnoxious! If you are accustomed to deprivation, or non-assertion, any request is going to feel radically different. It is quite possible to make requests for what you deserve without being obnoxious or excessively aggressive. So as you experiment with this, trust that the aftermath of a venture into deserving sometimes brings a backlash. Try to see this as a sign of your progress! And celebrate!


Joy-Gram for February 2012

Go ahead. Brag about something. You deserve it. I’ll go first: Guess what! Out on a Limb is five years old this month! Woo-hoo!

Your February 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here to see a small critter who knows he deserves to run!

Click here for a sweet little love story. (Call it a Valentine …)

Many thanks to Margo Potheau and Bobbi Emel for this month's Prompts for Joy.

Grief FAQ

You can find my responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the grieving process at the website, www.caring.com by clicking the Grief FAQ link at the top of this page.

Pictured Above

Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Photo by Geoffrey Clark.

Archives Now Available

To re-read or share past Out On A Limb newsletters, click here, or type the following url into your browser: http://www.mcscala.com/html/EZineArchives.html.

By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •

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