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.
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.
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.
Categorised as: Self-love/self-esteem