Why Do We Deprive Ourselves?



Why do we deprive ourselves?

I realize this is a loaded question with the potential for hundreds of different answers, but it’s the question on my mind today.

Self-deprivation is voluntary denial or suppression of one’s own interests or desires. I feel pretty confident assuming that if you’re a social worker reading this blog your true desires are good. You are likely not one with an intense or prolonged desire to harm and injure others but rather a desire to help and heal yourself and others.

Years ago I would recite the affirmation, “I serve, I deserve”, but now I realize that I deserve just because I’m me and I want it. I don’t have to ‘do’ anything to be deserving or worthy, I just am because I am. And so are you! Social workers (and all human beings) deserve to live well and feel well – not because we give so much to others just because we are deserving.

Social workers take pride in being resourceful and getting things done, but sometimes we have to stop and remind ourselves that we don’t have to do them alone. We can’t save everyone and do everything – it’s impossible. We also don’t have to be so fiercely independent that we are exhausted.

Social workers deserve to be paid well as well and if that is your desire (which I trust that it is), please own it. Don’t try to bury it or be embarrassed by it. You are not a better social worker because you accept a low-paying job with the intention of doing good work. You are not a better social worker when you struggle financially.

Social work is heart work, but it’s still a job and a profession. Although you may not need external validation and may not struggle with comparison and competition, we all deserve to feel connected to our place of employment or business and valued for our contributions.

Being overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated is NOT a social work rite of passage.

Remember when I shared that the song that represents my social work career is “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston?

Well, I miss being in community with other amazing women encouraging, empowering, and elevating each other…but there is no need to continue to deny myself this opportunity. I deserve to have my desires met.

I can have my cupcake and eat it too, so on Friday, November 18, 2022, I will share a special announcement with my online community. If you are super excited and can’t wait until Friday, just reply to this post and I will share the secret early just for you.

{Sidebar: Hard to believe the Whitney Houston version of the song from The Bodyguard movie soundtrack is 30 years old! It was cool to see the movie at the theater last week with my daughter.}



Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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