When Did You Start Living Off Crumbs?
My journey began as a child who was the obvious least favored of my siblings. I then learned to take whatever leftover love that was available to me in our household. The only time I really got affirmation or affection was when I did something well in school or extra-curricular activities. Thus, I began my pattern of auditioning or earning love from friends and love interests. I would brag, “I never get into arguments with my friends. We always get along.” The truth was that my friends and I always got along because I had no boundaries. If I thought I was going to have to say no to someone, I would find some other way to accommodate the person. I had evolved into a full-fledged people pleaser by the time I went to college. I continued this pattern into dating and relationships, where regarding oneself as worthy is a requirement for a healthy relationship. Let’s just say that I didn’t have many of them because I was either trying to earn love or I would force the other person to earn my love. I was living off crumbs or expecting others to do the same.
Living off crumbs means accepting as little as someone is willing to give you with the hopes of one day getting a real meal from that person. It’s accepting what you think you deserve or think that a person is able to give you. Here are some indications that you may be living off crumbs:
- Allow others to come in and out of your life conveniently
- Rarely make demands on others
- Scared of people who try to love you “too much”
- Willing to get into relationships with someone who is obviously involved with someone else
- Take jobs below your skill level or ability
- May be an overachiever or workaholic
- Make excuses for other people’s indiscretions and allow them to misbehave or mistreat you, claiming others just don’t understand
- Misread cues, thinking any type of kind or friendly gesture is some type of sign of true affection, interest or even love
- Spend a lot of time fantasizing about when the situation will change or how other people really feel about you despite behavior to the contrary
- Rejection is debilitating for you, so instead of keep trying, you may give up rather easily
- Tend to play games with other people’s affection, requiring them to earn your affection because love shouldn’t be easy in your mind
- Always reminding people of your accomplishments or you make up things to impress others
Some or most of these characteristics apply to those who live off crumbs. For most, their journey began in childhood, but for others, they conformed to this mentality after being maligned or mistreated by the person they love. They blamed themselves, thinking “something must be wrong with me.” They never consider other people’s shortsightedness, callousness or prejudice. The result is believing that other people’s opinions are more valuable than theirs, or low self-worth.
Although figuring out when your journey to living off crumbs is helpful to the extent that you can answer why you are this way, this evaluation doesn’t help to necessarily correct the problem. What does help is to find new motivation other than pleasing others.
We have to earn people’s trust and respect in business, so that kind of attitude is acceptable. This, however, shouldn’t be the source of personal relationships. If you have a personal relationship now in which you’re needed rather than loved or heeded only for your contribution, then ask yourself: “If I stay in this situation, what will it ultimately cost me? What has it already cost me?”
Who in your life loves you as is? This means you don’t have to be good at anything in particular or do anything to gain acceptance or approval. Seek that kind of unconditional acceptance in every relationship. Remember, God loves us as is, and that what makes His love so special.
-Annette Johnson, author What’s Your Motivation?