You get what you deserve, not what you desire, is an oft quoted saying. But who is to decide who deserves what? What yardsticks do we apply? Is there a reservation policy when it comes to deserving? Are any of us less deserving of grace? Is it only reserved for those who meditate, say their prayers or go to temples? Is there anyone who does not deserve respect, happiness or peace of mind? Don’t all of us deserve good health and happy relationships? If everyone deserves all of the above what else is left that we don’t deserve?
If we come from the belief that we don’t deserve something then we will be sabotaging our chances of getting it. This belief may arise because we think we have not been morally good people. Or it may arise because we think we are unworthy. Deserving is closely linked to our self-image. The image or opinion we have of ourselves will determine our sense of what we think we deserve.
Only a person who believes that he deserves the best in life will get the best from and out of life. Even the most unspiritual person is entitled to grace, but he must believe it to be so. Is a wicked person deserving of forgiveness? If he feels he is not, he will drown himself in guilt for the rest of his life. We need not condemn ourselves as undeserving for an entire lifetime because of our imperfections.
Unless we have a proper attitude towards deserving we will be digging our own grave. This means, first and foremost, that we need to cultivate self worth. At the level of consciousness we are all equally worthy. At the level of mind, our worldly actions and behaviour make us feel less worthy as compared to others. It is a comparative feeling of unworthiness that results in us feel less deserving than others. The ultimate spiritual solution to the problem of self worth is to know who we really are and not the various concepts we have about ourselves.
The saying that we get what we deserve is absolutely right but it needs an amendment. We get what we think we deserve. It is our own thinking that does us in. We should not allow others to determine what we deserve. There are no absolute standards to ascertain who deserves what.
Deserving is a highly judgmental word and one has to use it carefully. Never ever tell anyone, especially to children, that they don’t deserve something. If they believe it, you are literally condemning them to a life of non-deserving. If they have done something that is not considered right by society they may never feel absolved. One never feels completely forgiven for moral lapses, resulting in enduring guilt, which is the major source of the feeling of undeserving. To feel deserving once again we need to neutralize the guilt by recollecting all the good deeds we have done and keep adding more. Wrongdoing can be offset only by more rightdoing. We need not be perfect to start deserving. Don’t we feel our children deserve the best, however they are and whatever they have done? Why not the same for ourselves?
The feeling of deserving is the single greatest motivating power we possess. You may have all the skills and knowledge in the world but if you don’t feel deserving you will just not make it. The race would be lost even before it began. The feeling of not deserving saps our energy and increases our sense of unworthiness.
Good people often feel that they have not been rewarded by life for being good. They feel that they deserved much more. Is this all I get for being good, is a common feeling. This can cause much heartburn. But this is because of the mistaken assumption that goodness will fetch us rewards. The only reward it fetches is freedom from guilt, resulting in peace of mind. It does not guarantee wealth, freedom from troubles or difficult relationships. Unfortunately many expect too much from being good, as though it were a favor they were doing to society. Being and doing good is actually our duty.
Life gives generously to those who feel that they deserve. Unless we begin to feel that we deserve the best we will not attract the best. As Somerset Maugham once remarked – ‘it is a funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it’. All of us, without exception, deserve a good life. On the one hand we are told that we are divine beings having an earthly experience, that God is within us, that we are immortal and so on. Then does not this divine eternal being that we are deserve the best? If you want to feel that you deserve the best begin by identifying yourself as an aspect of the divine. Then even our self-critical mind will not keep raising doubts about our deservingness.
Author: Rama Ratnam