One of the things I constantly hear people talking about is how they deserve things. It could be a partner who does x, a certain amount of money, or a glass of wine in the evenings. In my own experience, and what I see in others, is that almost always, the part that is pushing this notion of deserving actually stems from a fear of unworthiness—a fear that in fact, we don’t deserve anything.
When we distill these impulses down, I think it’s about something much more fundamental, and that is, it’s incredibly vulnerable to want something without knowing if we’ll ever get it. There are some things we have control over in the world, and plenty more we don’t, and that alone is incredibly vulnerable. The idea that we deserve things is a contraction based simply on how intensely vulnerable it is to want something.
Let your wanting be OK.
It’s not about whether you deserve it. You want it, and that’s enough.
As humans, we are very afraid of wanting things, and admitting that we want things—to ourselves and to others. xx
Even if no one else in the universe ever wants the thing you want, it’s totally ok that you want it. Whether a person can give it to you or not, it’s totally ok that you want it. If people think you’re stupid for wanting it, it’s totally ok that you want it. Whether you’ve done anything to deserve it or not, it’s totally ok that you want it.
I remember one time my son had written this incredibly long Christmas list filled with all kinds of different legos. When I saw the list, I noticed myself wanting to say to him, “you know, you might only get one thing,” and I thought, what is that?
Then I remembered when I was a kid, I used to write long Christmas lists, and one year both my mother and father said something that had me feel ashamed of how much I wanted. For the most part, this came from a good place — we were very poor and they wanted me to have realistic expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. When we do this to our children, we disappoint them now, so they feel disappointed in the future.
The irony is, we do the exact same thing with ourselves all the time. We are so afraid of being disappointed in the future, that we disappoint ourselves right now by not even letting ourselves want the thing.
In relationships, the notion of deserving is completely irrelevant.
With family, friends and intimate relationships, there’s a tendency to decide whether we will give something of ourselves based on whether we think the other deserves it. Most people don’t say this outright, but the logic is, they haven’t done x, so why should I do x? But how we relate to others, is independent of whether they deserve it or not.
If we’re waiting for them to deserve something, we are diminishing the power we have as individuals to change the entire field around us. If the relationship I want to be in is one where we praise each other, I get to do that, regardless of how they behave or whether they deserve it or not.
For me, it’s deeply empowering to believe I deserve nothing and I believe the fact that I’m here at all is a miracle. This helps me not get hung up on the idea of what I deserve, because it just doesn’t matter.