Are you still keeping count of what you feel you’re entitled to?

Say you’re worthy of something

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Deserve is a problematic word.

For centuries, we have been justifying all sorts of awful behavior simply because we accept the belief that certain people receive more or less because they deserve it.

Deserving is nice story to help make sense of the world. But the reality is, nobody actually deserves anything. The gods have not chosen any of us. The idea of people getting what they deserve might work in a logical and rational world, but that only exists in the movies.

Bodine writes in her book of healing that whenever we judge whether or not we deserve something, we are usually applying other people’s standards.

The word deserve is about rewards, punishments, guilt and shame. It is about conditional love, which isn’t love at all.

One tactic to try is language substitution, a favorite of cognitive behavioral therapists. They recommend substituting irrational thinking for more realistic preferences.

For instance, instead of saying you deserve something, say you’re worthy of something.

Feel the difference of those two phrases as they come out of your mouth. The reason it likely feels better is, worthiness not some external demand or expectation about what the world should give you. It’s an internal state, one that exists right now, one over which you have legitimate ownership.

Ellis, one of my favorite psychotherapists, used to write about how deserving the equivalent of directly challenging the truth of a situation in favor of what we wanted the truth to be. The word deserve focuses our attention on what we think should be, rather than what is.

Imagine a life not loaded down with the heaviness of feeling so unworthy.

Imagine not spending our lives trying to use externals to override our inner sense of unworthiness. Sounds pretty chill to me.

One last point on this word from the greatest sports agent in history.

Jerry Maguire says to his client, the great football receiver:

On the field, it’s about what you didn’t get. Who’s to blame, who underthrew, who has the contract you don’t, who’s not giving you love, that is not what inspires people. Just shut up. Play the game from your heart. Then I’ll show you the kwan.

Our days of keeping count of what we feel entitled to are over.

May we accept that nobody deserve anything, and may we learn to have gratitude for everything.

Are you still keeping count of what you feel you’re entitled to?

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