“Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer. Along with our ability to feel our own pain go our best hopes for healing, dignity and love” – Dr. Gabor Maté
Sometimes the most well-meaning people are the ones who feel the least deserving of happiness.
The things that happen to us, our rotten relationships, our traumas, and our regrets, can cloud our judgment of ourselves, and over time, we become out of touch with who we are and what we deserve. I was like that for most of my life.
Maybe you’re like that right now. I don’t know what you made you that way, but until you give yourself enough respect to address why you’re having those feelings, it will be difficult to move on.
But in the meantime, I can give you a few reasons why your self-contempt is unfounded, and why you deserve as much as anyone else.
1. You Deserve to Be Happy Because You Are Alive
I was suspicious of this when I first heard it, but it’s true. I felt like I had to earn my right to exist; like I had to prove it. But I was wrong. You have inherent value because you are a breathing human being.
This is step number one of self-worth. This is where it starts. If you don’t feel like you have a right to exist, you will never feel deserving.
Here’s a simple way to look at this from Peter Crone: Think of a baby. Does that baby deserve to be happy? Well, at one point, that was you. You just grew up.
Things happened to you. You fucked some stuff up. You probably did the best you could. But somewhere along the way, you became divorced from yourself. Traumas you experienced lead to maladaptive ways of relating to yourself and others. You got stained with shame.
But shame can be healed, and your relationship with yourself can be mended.
2. You Have Integrity
This is a cliché, but I’m still going to say it until I die — no one is perfect. But what matters is you do the best you can for the people around you.
Are you there when a friend needs you? Are you willing to listen? Do try to maintain a base level of honesty with the people? Are you not out to screw people over?
When you do things that compromise your integrity — lying, cheating, falling into bad habits, not giving 100% — it becomes harder to respect yourself. Just trying to be a good person counts for a lot.
You have to believe that a good person is exactly what the world needs. You have to give yourself credit for sticking to your values. You call yourself worthless while there are much worse people than you out there kicking their feet up on a desk and counting money with a cigar in their mouth.
The world needs more decent folk.
3. You’re Willing to Work For What You Want
Everyone deserves a chance, but that doesn’t mean the world owes you anything. So if you believe that, and you strive to make constant progress without cheating or cutting corners, how could you not deserve the things you want?
This also includes putting effort into relationships, and your health.
Maybe you’re the type of person who doesn’t feel like they are enough. Maybe you believe that if you achieve enough you will finally deserve to be happy. This is a dead-end road.
You’re chasing self-worth, but you doomed yourself to never find it once you accepted that it wasn’t yours to begin with. You can’t seek self-worth. You have to give it to yourself. Believing in your worth has to come first.
That’s the only way to find true satisfaction in any accomplishment.
4. You Have Survived
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re alive, which means you’ve managed to endure everything life has thrown at you until this point. And you know what? That’s something worth appreciating.
There are so many flavors of human suffering that’s it’s safe to assume everyone has endured something. Maybe you had moments that brought you to your knees. Maybe they tested you beyond what you thought you were capable of. Maybe you’re going through it right now.
You need to acknowledge and appreciate your strength. There’s a specialness in being able to say, “Man, I’ve been through a lot.”
You’re probably way stronger than you give yourself credit for.
5. You Love and Are Loved
No other person on Earth can validate your existence but you. But consider this thought:
Picture someone you love, and imagine they are in the same pain you’re in. They are telling themselves how worthless they are, and how they don’t deserve to be happy.
I’m sure you see them in a different light. So, what would you say? How would you treat someone you care about when they’re in pain? You’d probably rush to their aid and reassure them that their distorted thinking isn’t true.
You’d probably empathize with them, list all their great qualities, and tell them why whatever happened to them doesn’t have to define them.
Now, the question is, why don’t you treat yourself the same way?
It’s because you’re caught in the fog of your own shame. You have to try to look at yourself in the present, and not define yourself by your past, or by what people did to you. Self-forgiveness is something you can achieve.
Not Many People Feel Like They Deserve to Be Happy
Have you noticed that every other person you meet now has some mental health problem? There could be a million reasons for a society like this. But I think we can conclude that it’s harder to feel self-compassion when you’re drowning in tech and political bitterness.
Gabor Maté, the doctor quoted in the introduction, believes that self-hatred, along with all other mental ailments, stems from life experience. He says:
Nobody has ADHD, nobody has psychosis — these are processes within the individual. It’s not a thing that you have. This is a process that expresses your life experience. It has meaning in every single case.
I don’t believe anyone is born feeling like they don’t deserve to be happy. They need to be convinced.
Remember these things:
- You have value because you’re alive.
- Your integrity makes you more deserving.
- Your hard work does too.
- You’ve endured pain before, and you should appreciate that.
- You have as much worth as someone you love.
If you’ve been convinced that you don’t deserve to be happy, then you need to work toward forgiveness. Go see a professional. Go find a friend. Dig deep. Fight for yourself. Do whatever you have to do. Your life matters.