Monday, August 6, 2012
Attracting What I Deserve aka Deserving What I Attract
Someone recently made me feel like I expect more out of life than I deserve. It wasn't intentional, but the conversation hit a nerve I thought long dead. Over the next few days, my thoughts returned to the idea more often than I'm happy admitting.
I've been willing to settle for less than I deserve for much of my life because I thought I didn't deserve the good I really deserved. It's not that I didn't fight for what I projected I thought I deserved. The problem was I didn't really think I deserved what I demanded other people give me, so I never expected to actually receive it. When I did receive it, I questioned it, doubted it, and sometimes even, subconsciously, rejected it.
I remember a short time during my high school/college years when I genuinely believed, at least to some degree, I deserved the best out of life and life would bring it my way if I just worked hard enough and stayed focused. Perhaps it was a kind of blind faith, but I didn't view failure as failure, per se. Of course, my idea of failure wasn't exactly "failure" since receiving anything less than a "B" was a failure to me. Even a "B" was cause for concern. Instead I viewed any failure, large or small, as life's way of redirecting my energy. I would beat myself up plenty for not being perfect, but then I'd reassess the situation and move on to something else. I didn't realize I viewed failure that way until years later after much work on my problems with perfectionism.
Growing up I was taught to expect the worst so I'd be surprised when good things happened. Somewhere along the line the idea that I didn't deserve the best also became a part of the message. A part of me combated it during my early life. Deep inside I knew life would work out my way if I just endured whatever trials came my way. Yet, I still didn't believe I deserved the best life had to offer.
As time progressed I began to believe I deserved the bad things that happened in my life. I began to believe I didn't deserve for good things to come my way. I began to believe I didn't deserve to be successful or happy or loved. I even began to believe I didn't deserve good relationships of any kind. I wanted those things, but I didn't believe I deserved them. At first the belief was subconscious. Outwardly, I said I believed I deserved the best. Perhaps I even acted like I deserved the best out of life, but my internal voice whispered constantly in my ear that I didn't deserve the good things in my life. I tended to sabotage the good in my life like the universe had made some colossal mistake. I embraced the bad in my life like an earned punishment for my existence.
I'm a strong believer in gratitude and the power of gratitude to improve one's life, so it's hard for me to say what I need to say now. In some senses, I became too grateful for whatever good found its way through my defenses and landed in my life. I felt like I didn't deserve those things, so I became desperate to keep them while simultaneously pushing them away. I gushed over the good in my life because I feared fate would realize I didn't deserve whatever good was in my life and yank it away before I was finished enjoying it. I smothered whatever good came into my life until it struck back with something bad. I sank at the feet of the good in my life and screamed "I'm not worthy." until it agreed and left.
As I found my way back to believing I deserved good, my gratitude became less desperate and more heartfelt. Gratitude stopped feeling like begging the universe to let me have things to be grateful for and more like embracing the good life brought me.
The more genuinely grateful I felt, the happier I felt. The happier I felt, the more grateful I felt. Interspersed with the happiness and gratitude, my confidence returned. As my confidence grew, I began to realize that I deserved all the good things in my life, and the bad things in my life were only lessons on how to live the life I wanted to live. And, this all lead to more gratitude which lead to greater recognition of the idea that I deserve the best. The greater recognition lead to acceptance. Acceptance to greater confidence. Greater confidence to more gratitude. And, soon, I realized I had surrounded myself with a positive outlook that was no longer willing to accept being treated less than the best or offered less than I deserve in any given situation or relationship.
I'm no longer afraid to say without equivocation "I deserve the very best life has to offer. I want the best in my life. And, I will accept nothing less than the best life has to offer."
For the first time in my life, I realize the best doesn't mean perfection. It doesn't mean setting unrealistic expectations. "The best" is simply that which aids me in becoming my best self. And, while it may sound strange, that little bit of knowledge allows me to feel a sense of happiness even when I hurt because it means whatever this moment brings is preparing me for "the best" that is coming my way...
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted and four books of poetry. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.