Brave New Kitty

Overcoming a Dysfunctional Litter

Do I Believe I Deserve Good Things?

If you’re stuck and don’t know why, it’s probably because, deep down, you don’t really believe you deserve good things.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the law of attraction. It says, in essence (for those of you who’ve been on an expedition to Antarctica), that we attract what we think about. It’s taken the personal growth world by storm, and people can’t seem to read enough about it or apply it in their lives fast enough.

There are a lot of serious logical flaws in this belief system, at least in how it’s presented by many new age thinkers, which I’ll explore at another time. That said, positive thinking is a very important habit to cultivate. Awhile back, a website I found had an article on the law of allowing, which it said was the most difficult part of the law of attraction for most people. The law of allowing says that we tend to resist what we don’t want in our lives rather than allowing what we do want. In doing so, we’re focused on the negative, and therefore not attracting positive energy into our lives.

I saw myself instantly. I knew at once that this negativity lived inside of me, and it was what I had been working to overcome, in one way or another, my whole adult life. The main form this negativity takes is not believing I deserve good things.

It was a tremendous epiphany, and if it hadn’t come to me all at once like it did, I may have found a way to avoid seeing it, because I didn’t like admitting it to myself.

I don’t believe I deserve good things. This is my comfort zone. It’s a buffer that’s protected me from disappointment, heartache, and failure. The problem is, as with all defense mechanisms, it’s also prevented me from reaching my full potential.

I don’t live there like I used to, this is true. I’ve developed a healthy enough self-image to take some risks and pursue interests I would never have dreamed of ten years ago. I suppose all the work I’ve done has brought me to this point, to facing this unpretty truth. I probably wouldn’t have seen it before now or have had the capacity to deal with it; that’s how growth seems to work.

Yep.

But I’m not alone. I also saw friends and acquaintances, relatives, and even virtual strangers who obviously do not believe they deserve good things. Many people seem to go out of their way to sabotage their lives, saddle themselves with burdens they don’t really want, and get stuck in patterns that leave them feeling depressed and hopeless. (If you want evidence of this, look to alcoholism, addiction, runaway consumerism, and the amazing growth of gambling as an acceptable pastime. Escapist activity has reached epidemic proportions in our post-industrial society, and I see this as an indication that a lot of people don’t like themselves, or their lives, very much. Here’s an article I wrote about this.)

I’ve come to believe that this core negativity is outrageously common. People learn early in life that they don’t deserve good things. It could come from an unloving parent (or parents) who treated you like you didn’t matter, a religious belief in “sin nature” (which completely misses the point about sin, god, and spirituality), or a stoic immigrant mentality that life is hard and full of misery, handed down through the generations of your family. Or from growing up in poverty, or from physiological leanings toward depression. It’s partly just our human nature to dwell on the negative; this is how we save ourselves from too much disappointment in life, particularly if we’ve had more than our share as a child.

There are so many ways to believe that you don’t deserve good things, it’s not too much short of a miracle to get fully past this limiting outlook.

But, if we want to squeeze the most juice out of life, get past it we must. In fact, I would submit that getting past limiting belief systems is the very essence of personal growth. It may be the key difference between people who get what they want, and those who lead lives of quiet desperation.

By getting past it, I mean specifically this: that, when you see something you want, your first thought is no longer that you’re not good/pretty/smart/talented/capable/deserving enough to get it, which you then must vanquish with the positive thinking you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Instead, your first thought, your instinctive, knee-jerk, out-of-the-box, core-self reaction is, “How can I get/do/learn/become that?” Which you immediately follow up with a plan of pursuit.

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

So I’ve been thinking about how to eradicate negativity from my life and deeply, soulfully, and by default believe that I deserve good things. I don’t know if it’s possible to ever do that completely; I may always have to make a conscious effort to shift away from this unfortunate core-self belief. But what I’ve come up with so far is this.

As far as shifting my mindset in a positive direction:

  • It’s pointless to fret about whether or not I can accomplish this. I know it’s the right direction, so I just have to keep trying.
  • Introspection, honesty, sincerity, and gratitude have brought me everywhere I need to be and will continue to do so, even if the obstacles sometimes feel overwhelming.
  • Just because the journey sometimes uncovers more questions than it answers doesn’t mean I’m moving in the wrong direction. In fact, it probably means I’m moving in a good direction, and that I’m willing to deal with what’s there rather than what I would like to be there.
  • Owning my unattractive personality traits has tremendous transformative power.
  • It’s always important to acknowledge how far I’ve come.
  • Doing what I want—following my bliss—is really the only way to have meaning in my life, so it is essential to keep at it.

As far as actual work:

  • Congratulate myself for my bravery rather than beat myself up for my failure.
  • Shift my focus from avoiding what I don’t want to allowing into my life what I do. This will require some work, perhaps in the form of journaling, affirmations, and talking it through with supportive people (possibly a new stint in therapy).
  • Strive to be of service to others (because being of service is the ultimate way to feel good about yourself).

And on a spiritual level:

  • Understand that, even as I strive in the psychological realm for conquest over shortcomings, I’m perfect just as I am, in this moment and in every moment. I need only to recognize this perfection in myself to be free of all negative, limiting beliefs. This requires ongoing spiritual practice, which for me is meditation.
  • Know that, in the Big Picture, all things are good, even if I don’t yet understand why.

Summary
I’ve realized that what I’m talking about here really comprises personal growth itself, and that I could substitute just about any concern, issue or shortcoming and arrive at the same bulleted list for change. Everything is about honesty, sincerity, and gratitude; everything has a personal and a transpersonal (spiritual) component; and all growth is about shedding limiting beliefs and moving toward the Great Wholeness.

I didn’t mean for this to get so generalized; I suppose because this belief that I don’t deserve good things in my life is so all encompassing and has such a vast effect, it was somewhat inevitable. But if you struggle with it as well, then maybe some of this will be helpful for you.

I hope so.

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Categorised as: Self-love/self-esteem


10 Comments

  1. Dayo says:

    “I deserve to get everything I want in Life”
    Dosh

  2. Anchom says:

    My Mom used to constantly tell me that I was not the center of attention. I would ask for things and the answer was 95% of the time no. So I stopped asking after a while. Now as an adult and finally on my own I feel like screaming YES IF I WANT IT I CAN HAVE IT AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME DIFFERENT. It is still a struggle though. I have also become the center of attention. Not in the way that most people precive as being loud and obnixious. But by creating a void and allowing others to come to me. It is something I had to discover on my own.

  3. Davis says:

    Thanks a lot for this blog. I’ve been in this spiral of negativity for a LONG time. And like you have described the depression its those the hardest from prior experience (i.e. from childhood, neglect, etc.). In summary, are you saying that we should be more focused on getting what we want instead? Couldn’t that be dangerous in certain sense? For example, I’ve been thinking about friendships and I feel that nothing I do matters to any of them, and they could careless… especially a friend who I value highly and perceive to be like a brother, and yet, I don’t believe he feels the same way. I’ve helped in more ways than could be possibly be imagined, and I think he could careless of my existence. I’ve used the “I don’t deserve anything” as an escape or failsafe to help me not feel the despair just as you said so I do not have to worry about those feelings or not feel at all. What do you suggest? Does existence significant? Is humanity significant? What do you think…?

  4. Kitty says:

    Hi Davis,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’m saying that we should focus on what we want: on attracting the positive rather than on repelling the negative. In itself, that might not necessarily do much. But such a shift should create new insights about how we block the positive, which in turn will help us figure out how to stop doing it. Many new-ager proponents make this process sound easy, but it isn’t. Learning to allow positive energy into our lives when we’ve had a lifelong pattern of negativity can be difficult and take awhile to get. The bullet points in the article speak to some practices that have helped me.

    No, I don’t think it’s dangerous to focus on what you want, unless I misunderstand your meaning (which is entirely possible). I think what you’re saying is that it’s painful to focus on a want if it means pain in the form of lack of reciprocation, so that’s what I’m going to address. You want friends to appreciate you, and this person doesn’t, and it hurts. The problem is not with what you want; it is normal and healthy to want friends who appreciate you and give as much to the relationship as you do. The problem is that, for reasons you must discover for yourself, you are drawn to people who don’t appreciate you or give back to the relationship in a way that feels good to you. Telling yourself you don’t deserve any more than that might seem like it helps with your despair, but it’s like an addiction: it helps for awhile, but when the buzz wears off, you are still left with all the deep, unresolved pain that you’re seeking to eradicate. You’ve treated the symptoms without looking for the deeper causes, and as long as you do that, you will continue to have the same problems.

    Thus, the problem is not with what you want, but rather, with how you go about trying to get it. If you want better friends, you must figure out why you’re drawn to people like this guy and how to create space in your life for people who appreciate you more…as I said, this is your journey, but it’s likely you grew up in a family full of negativity that maybe didn’t value you as much as you deserved (and I know you deserved it because EVERY child deserves it!!). Now you are struggling with those deeply ingrained beliefs, thoughts, and patterns. It is those, not your wants, that need to be addressed.

    I hope that gets at what you were asking about. If not, please let me know so I can give it another try. I would like to help you sort some of this out if I can.

    Is existence significant? Is humanity significant? These are topics each person must figure out for him or her self. But my short answer is, if you’re asking the question, then yes, likely so.

    Take care and please keep in touch,

    Kitty

  5. Cj says:

    I came a lookin… read it twice. I maybe the exception, but I find myself asking ‘but what is the purpose’, there is so much deception out there, I sense that even with a positive attitude, negative minded people will seek you out as a target more so – because of that “Newbie” positive outlook, take an advantage, beat you back down. So is it a case of living behind a wall and feeling positive about yourself? Then why change.

    What is the purpose. Succeed for what/why/who. With all the potential in the world, and with most of the world in self absorb mode, sucking, leaching, bleeding mankind for any scraps, why bother.

    Do we build a ten foot high fence, plant a veggie patch and whistle at the birds, buy a cat and some goldfish?

  6. Kitty says:

    Hi CJ,

    Thanks for your somewhat cryptic but interesting comment. The only answer I can give to “why change?” is this: because you want to. That is the only viable answer to any question about taking on personal change. If you don’t see a point, then there probably isn’t one.

    As far as being taken advantage of, that will always happen regardless of your attitude. The world is full of predators, yes, and they will find you. But it has been my experience that the more positive I am, the more positivity comes into my life. Living your life in such a way as to keep what other people might want from you to a minimum seems defeatist to me, and verging on nihilistic. It’s like giving in to the dark side without a fight. Live your life out in the open or live it behind a fence, with a garden and some pets, it makes no difference. The only thing that matters is that you live your life in a way that feels authentic to YOU. Stop pondering pointless hypotheticals and pay attention to what’s in your heart and mind. If you do that, nothing else matters in the least.

    Have I addressed your questions at all? Or have I missed them completely?

    Take care,

    Kitty

  7. Margo says:

    Read through this ‘blog’ and found it interesting. I do not feel deserving of any good thing (food, friends, job, life itself, etc). I am not depressed but I think that I am in the accetance mode of ‘this is my lot, live with it, embrace it, because it will not get better’. Now that being said, there is a part of me that wants to be happy, to (as you put it) attract positive to me….but, I was raised in a loving, good home…never needed for things…not rich by any standard…the home was loving and warm. BUT I was raised that to want things is wrong and that goes against the self less nature of being a Christian.
    AND that has stayed with me up to this point. I feel agressively guilty when I say that ‘I deserve this or that’ and boy, do I really feel guilty when I buy the things I need (sigh) and so I buy needful things on the cheap which then gets my husband upset because he feels that I should get quality things (neeful or not).

    I guess, what I am saying or asking, is – how do I find that balance between being a Christian, having a sefless nature but still feel deserving of good things?

  8. Kitty says:

    Hi Margo,

    Thanks for your comment. Your question is pretty complex, and I’m not sure I can do it justice without giving it a few days’ thought, but in the interest of responding, I am going to say what first struck me. First of all, I’m not sure that being a Christian has anything to do with your guilt about feeling deserving. I know many devout Christians, from many different denominations, who do not set up a dichotomy between caring for others and caring for themselves. It is not an either/or. My guess is that the reasons for your guilt go deeper, and are tied more to your parenting than to your spiritual beliefs. This is not to say that your parenting was bad or wrong, just that there are probably some patterns so ingrained that you have trouble seeing them. If you are able to somehow take a step back, both from your past and your present, and become an objective observer, you may uncover some truths about the source of your feelings.

    The point of this post was really just to say that we are all equally deserving or all equally un-deserving, however you want to look at it. This is so because we are all human and fallible, messy mixtures of good and bad, sin and saintliness. Maybe it would be helpful for you to see yourself as a “garden variety” human being, who deserves good things just as much as the next guy; I don’t know. This is just an idea.

    Or, maybe it would be helpful for you to do some visualization exercises of yourself as a child. What do you want for your little 5 year old self? Does she deserve as much love, nurturing, and protection as other 5 year olds? If you can see that she absolutely does (and that ALL children the world over deserve these things), and feel this truth deep in your heart as RIGHT and GOOD, then maybe you could apply it to your adult self (and to all adults).

    On another note, perhaps your thinking about “selflessness” is a bit skewed. I’ve written a few posts on this topic, the main gist of which are that it is impossible to be selfless–without self. When we believe selfless means “I don’t matter” rather than “all people matter equally,” I think it can result in the experience you’re having.

    In any case, I hope I’ve helped you and answered your question at least somewhat. Like I said, it’s a big topic and these are just my first thoughts. Please let me know if I’ve helped at all, or if there’s more I could talk about that might. (I am always looking for good topics to write about!)

    Take care, and please keep in touch. Thanks again for writing.

    Kitty

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this post and your other post on being deserving. They have been tremendously helpful to me as I work through the same issues. Thank you!

    • Kitty says:

      Thanks Jennifer,

      Sorry for the late reply, I had been out of the country and unable to access the site. It’s always validating to me to know that people resonate with my writing, and that I have been of some help to you in some way. Best of everything to you!

      Hugs,

      Kitty

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