The deep and ignored problem of “deserve”


“I can’t exactly say why I’m writing this. Everything I hate in my life is self-inflicted and I think it’s because deep down I don’t believe I deserve any happiness. 

This is part of a long message I received two days ago from a Gulpes subscriber. When I read the entire message, I understood that this person was living an unhappy daily life because she thinks she deserves to go through pain. It reminded me of another story from another person who had a similar problem.

Two years ago, I heard from a person “X” who wanted to end her life because after all she had accomplished and after all the efforts she had made, life seemed to decide otherwise for her. She studied for 10 years to get a degree she hated. So she found herself working in a field she hated. She made the decision to end a three-year love relationship because of problems that were definitely fixable while trusting people she hated. At this point, the only thought running through her head was, “What have I done to deserve all this happening to me?

When I look closely at human stories of pain and suffering, the most common and most problematic ones are those of “deserving“.

Ever since we were very young, we have been continually thinking in terms of cause and effect. When we work in preparation for a test, we think we deserve a good grade. When we study at Harvard, we think we deserve a good job. When we get an executive position at Apple, we think we’ve earned it. But when we get a job as a packer at Walmart, we think life is against us and we deserve to suffer.

Although actions have consequences, many of us believe that everything that happens to us is a result of our actions.

What about the horrible and unexpected things that can happen to you, such as an earthquake that destroys your entire neighbourhood or a flood that washes away all your belongings? Do you think it would be because of your actions? I really doubt that. However, being ingrained in this ideology of deserving, we find it hard to think that we don’t deserve our suffering. That is why you will very often hear people say, “What have I done to deserve what is happening to me?

Indeed, these people try to compensate for the cognitive dissonance created by thinking that life is unfair in different ways. Some people stick to the belief that it is fate, believing that there is a positive purpose that they ignore. Others use religion as a tool, assuming that God has a mysterious plan for them. Most of the remaining people think that they are the hub of the shit and begin to hate themselves and believe that they deserve to suffer.

At this point, many people seek help from pseudo professionals who not only tell them that they don’t deserve to suffer, but that they deserve more than that: that they deserve to be happy!

This brings the problem from hopelessness “I deserve to suffer” to the legal problem “I deserve to be happy”. Although the latter option seems to be less heavy to bear, it completely messes everything up.

“There is only one innate error, and that is the idea of believing that we exist in order to be happy,” said the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

In fact, the belief that we deserve anything is utterly wrong.

In life, we make decisions that sometimes lead to good results and sometimes to bad ones. The goal here is simply to take action and expect good results. That’s all it is.

At some point in our lives, we all experience tragedy, trauma, loneliness, anger, loss, sadness, failure, etc. Although some people suffer inequitably more than others, none of them deserve anything. It may be easy to see a person’s pain and think they deserve it, but through their eyes, they feel they don’t deserve it. Just as you may think that you don’t deserve your pain when other people may think that you do.

This idea of “merit” not only makes people miserable [3], it often leads them to commit the irretrievable. You’ll probably see someone breaking into a house because he or she thinks everyone deserves what’s in the damn safe. Or a mother-in-law who does everything she can to destroy a happy couple because she thinks they don’t deserve to be together. Worse yet, a brother who poisons his own brother because he thinks he deserves his fortune.

You only have to look around you to realize that this idea of “merit” has been a divisive issue around the world, particularly in most homes.

What people don’t want to understand is that happiness is not something that is deserved or earned outside of yourself. It is created within you through simple and constant choices to accept your human nature.

Therefore, you cannot claim to obtain it or, worse yet, deserve it after having accomplished what you think are the causes of this happiness.

So, what should you do now?

In order to provide you with an idea of the answer, let’s go back for a moment to the person “X” at the beginning who is wondering what he or she could have done to deserve such a punishment of life.

If I were to tell him something interesting, it would be this:

“Amigo, your life seems to be shit and so does the life of many other people. Life is not against you: you are neither a good person nor a bad person. You don’t deserve happiness. As of this moment, you don’t deserve anything at all. [1]

Now that you have a chance to realize that you’ve done too many things that cost you a lot of time, energy and relationships, you’re going to have to figure out how you feel about the pain, look at what you can learn from it as a lesson and commit to being better next time. Happiness should not be part of the mental equation. Nor its merit. Only self-improvement. This is how you will grow throughout your life, not by blaming yourself or others, including “life”.

One life lesson you can learn from this may be that living a life by imitating others or blindly following the crowd makes you run to your own doom.

So you need to stop sinking that crap and take a breath to find out who you really are [4].

Once you know who you are and what you care about, it won’t matter whether people like you or not. Your decisions will be up to you, and this aversion that drives you will not come into being, because you will decide to get involved in things based on what you are interested in.

Now get the hell out of here and take care of this valuable gift that is life! ”

Instead of thinking that you are special and believing that you deserve great things and happiness, ask yourself what you are willing to fight for what you want [2], because most of the time your life will not be the way you want it to be. This is perfectly normal, because this is what makes you want to live it, otherwise you would have seen one third of the world’s population on the street, shouting :

What happened to the remaining two-thirds?


1- If you think you deserve to be happy, you will live a miserable life, just as if you think you deserve to suffer. This is not a binary vision. You deserve neither. It would be hard for you to give up this idea of “merit,” but once you do, you will make your life much simpler than you think it is.

2- Instead of thinking that you deserve anything, ask yourself: what pain are you willing to bear in order to achieve what you want? This is one of the “two most important questions in your life”.

3- Misery revolves around you and you don’t even know it! Discover it in “the guide to being miserable”.

4- The article on “the four steps to understand to succeed in life” will help you discover who you are and what you are supposed to do after that.


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