“Under-earning is many things, not all of which are about money,” says Underearners Anonymous (UA), a 12-step fellowship of men and women who have come together to help themselves and one another recover from underearning. “While the most visible consequence is the inability to provide for one’s needs, including future needs, underearning is also about the inability to fully acknowledge and express our capabilities and competencies.”
MORE COMMON AMONG WOMEN Underearning is an unconscious process that forms habits and patterns of behavior that undermine one’s efforts. And it’s become much more common in these times of recession and high unemployment. An underearner may feel constantly stressed, or always feel like she is failing. This is especially so if everyone tells her how “a million younger girls would kill for your job.” That may make her more aware of real or imagined shortcomings, increase performance pressure and lead to heightened anxiety.
Also, underearning is more common among women because we’ve been brought up to be more modest and to constantly compare ourselves to others. We tend to believe the inner voice that says You’re not good enough and pile more pressure on ourselves. In these tough times, those who have a job are terrified of losing it, especially when they know how easily they might be replaced.
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SYMPTOMS OF UNDEREARNING Are you so scared of failure that you don’t even consider going for that dream promotion or new job? Or maybe you hold back in office discussions, scared to speak—even though you know you have a valid point—because you feel you can’t find your voice and be assertive? Have you gone into your performance review determined to ask for a pay raise, only to chicken out at the last moment? If you have answered yes to these questions, keep on reading and see if you can relate to the main symptoms of underearning, according to UA.