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Feeling Deserving or Undeserving: Who Decides?



“Sometimes, all you have to do is forget what you feel and remember what you deserve,”—

There is this notion that deserving is something that you must earn or something that should be automatic. It varies depending on who you are talking to. With that said, what are your thoughts on where these feelings of deserving and undeserving come from? And who decides?

I think that we all are deserving, however not to the point where we are entitled. There is some work involved in deserving anything. For example; yes, you deserve that Porsche, but you will have to work for it. Yes, you deserve respect, but even that involves some work from you. Basically, what you deserve will depend on you as a person. What is not deserved, is those terrible feelings associated with feeling undeserving.  These feelings of undeserving can lead to us not putting forth the effort into creating the life that we want.

“And the hard truth is, sometimes, this feeling stems from the fact that we KNOW we’re not doing our best. But it’s possible that we simply don’t know how to work smart, how to reach our full potential, or how to organize our time better.”— Aimlef

So, where do these feelings of undeserving come from?

In researching undeserving, the one thing that surfaced time and time again was holding on to the expectations of others. Others expectations is about what they need and aspire for and not what you need and aspire for. Constantly trying to measure up to unrealistic expectations from others is pure insanity. There is no way we can meet all of those demands. In our efforts of trying to meet those demands, we are losing or have lost what we want for ourselves.  I had the first-hand experience of being a people pleaser. I had people show dissatisfaction in something that I wanted to do and because of their dissatisfaction, I didn’t pursue it further. Now that I think about it, I was crazy to let them decide what was best for me.  I wasn’t a baby that couldn’t think or decide for myself. I gave these people power over my life when I let their opinion override my decision about my life.

In addition, feeling undeserving also comes with unrealistic expectations that we have set for ourselves.

Positive things about yourself seem unreal due to feeling undeserving. Feeling undeserving will cause you to self-sabotage any positive changes in yourself. Why are we constantly trying to prove to others that we are worthy by taking on and trying to do various things for people? Low self-esteem can lead us to set expectations that are too high. While demanding the impossible, overachievers and perfectionists tend to have low self-esteem. As a result, when we don’t achieve what we wanted, we become self-critical and judgmental causing another layer of harm to our already damaged self-worth. This cycle continues on a rat wheel until something is done, if ever. In actual reality, we set ourselves up for failure by setting our expectations too high.  There is always this looming need to do more to the point where we don’t bask in or acknowledge our achievements. My mother would always tell me that I didn’t enjoy my achievements before I was off to doing something else. I went to school nearly straight through earning two masters and my doctorate. I was applying for my next program before I was done with my current program. I saw it as I was doing what I had to do. I now know that my mom was right. I was brushing my achievements off because it wasn’t enough. I always had this feeling of being in search of something and not knowing what I was searching for. I guess I was searching for my worth through different means.

“What we don’t realize when we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves is that we are not setting goals that help us realize our ambition. We are setting ourselves up to fail by distracting ourselves from our work, and giving power and energy to negative self-talk, a dialogue that undermines our success.”— Bonnie Marcus

According to Dr. Miki Kashtan, we should look at the needs that people have and not whether they deserve that need or not. In part to Dr. Kashtan’s notion, who makes the decision on whether a person deserves or is undeserving of anything. Being deserving or undeserving is an opinion not a fact that lies in the hand of the individual that is questioning whether he or she is deserving or undeserving. In reality, we hold on to that feeling of feeling deserving. We may not be the one that initially created that feeling of undeserving, but we definitely keep it going considering that we control our emotions and feelings, not anyone else, but us.

How to tell if you may feel undeserving or unworthy? Do any of these questions or statements sound familiar:

~ Are you extremely critical of yourself

~ Have a tendency to people please or be overly nice

~ Strive to be perfect

~ Constantly worried about what we did or didn’t do

~ Are afraid of making the wrong decision

~ Stay busy trying to prove your worth

~ Think others opinion is more important than your own

~ Think about past mistakes a lot

~ Are you afraid of failing

~ Have a hard time communicating and expressing your thoughts and feelings to others

~ Feel guilty and apologize often

~ Have no idea what your dreams and desires are

~ Feel insecure about your abilities

~ Find it difficult to accept praise or appreciation from others

~ Feel you would be worthier based on appearance, how you speak, acted, and/or material possessions

At the end of the day, feeling undeserving translates over to not feeling worthy or enough for others and oneself. The reality is that the external world can’t give us anything. Everything that we need is internally planted within us. As humans, it is unsure why we are constantly looking outward versus inward, but the answer is definitely within us. The key to deserving or worthiness is self-love. How many of us can honestly say that “we love ourselves.” I’m talking unconditionally.  See our blog on self-love.