Do you deserve to be happy?
I hope you answered yes to that question! After all, as human beings, spiritual beings or any kind of beings, we all deserve to be happy some if not most of the time, right?!
Which leads to the next question; how are you applying that theme to your everyday life?
Recently I was among a group of therapists who were asked to answer the question; why don’t I make time for self care?
The majority of the answers revealed that even students of psychology who understand the importance of self-care don’t make themselves enough of a priority to practice it.
Deeper discussion revealed that beneath the “I don’t have time” reason lurked the feeling that they didn’t deserve to prioritize their needs above the needs of others. Of course, I deserve to be happy, went the reasoning, but not to put my own happiness first.
So, what’s going on here? As it turns out, there are two levels of “deserve.” The high-level life liberty and pursuit of happiness one we accept as true, and the one we embody with our actions. It seems the two don’t always communicate.
So where do these deeply held beliefs about what we deserve come from? How did we first learn about what we do and do not deserve?
First, it’s important to separate the terms earn and deserve. Earn is objective; you earned a first prize, you earned the money to buy what you want, you even earn respect, it’s quantifiable.
The second thing to know, is that we typically learn what we do and don’t deserve from other people long before we have the ability to discern whether these ideas are really true.
“Deserve” is also a power trope; a training word used by authority figures mainly when speaking to children about whether their behavior warrants reward. It’s often subjective.
I may have had a strict nanny who frequently told me I didn’t deserve dessert because my nails were dirty, or a doting dad who thought everything I did deserved a reward. As a result, we all have different deeply held, complex beliefs around what we deserve, which we rarely question.
By recognizing where these deep-ceded beliefs come from, we can begin to question them.
If you answered yes to the “do I deserve to be happy?” think about the habitual choices you make. And the next time you put other, able-bodied people before your own self-care needs, I invite you to stop to take notice. One strategy I talk about in Breathe Into Breakthrough is to use “The Work”, of Byron Katie to ask yourself the following questions;
“Is it true?”
“Are you absolutely certain it’s true?”
“What happens when you believe that thought?”
And “who would I be without that thought?”
And if you’re ready to shift those old thought structures into more self-affirming beliefs, give yourself permission to start with just 10 minutes a day (even 5 if that’s more doable). Breathe your way into greater self-awareness, as you notice, identify and question your need to put other people’s needs first.
If everyone deserves the opportunity to be happy, be the change you want to see in the world. Starting today!
Check out this simple 10-minute basic breathwork and movement series to shift out of a negative mindset.
Please share this work with anyone who might benefit from it!