How to Overcome Feeling Like You Don’t Deserve Good Things
“I don’t deserve to take care of myself. So I’ll just be a martyr mom and take care of everyone else and eventually gain 100 pounds and run my adrenals into the ground.”
“I don’t deserve to have fun. I can’t take a break unless the house is clean and the laundry is caught up and the school books are put away. I can’t spend money on myself so I better just stay home.”
“I don’t deserve someone taking care of me. My husband offered to bring me coffee but I said no, I’d get it later. My son offered to buy my lunch but I turned him down and paid for my own–and his.”
Do you see a pattern here? Whenever we focus on “I don’t deserve” (whether we consciously think it or not), the emphasis is on the word “I.”
When we feel bad about ourselves, we’re making ourselves the center of attention.
It may feel humble to think that we don’t deserve something, but it’s actually self-centered.
A few months ago I earned a trip to the Plexus Leader’s Retreat in Orlando, Florida. It was a dream-come-true kind of trip, staying at a fancy hotel and going to Disney World with my husband. A trip I couldn’t have imagined during all the years of being home with a very large family, homeschooling and stretching the budget thin. As the time drew near for the trip, I started having all these feelings that I didn’t deserve to go. After a few days I realized I wasn’t even enjoying the anticipation of the trip because I was allowing my self-focus to overshadow the joy.
Feeling like we don’t deserve something shows that we are equating our performance with our self worth. We feel worthy of love and reward only when we’ve performed well, and we can never perform well enough to feel worthy for very long. But that’s not how God sees us, and most of the time it’s not how our loved ones see us, either.
We start by believing the lie that we are what we do or who others say we are, instead of the truth that we are who God says we are.
We water and fertilize the lie by thinking it and speaking it. Then it grows and spreads and becomes a part of our self image: “I don’t deserve….” And that lie poisons the good that comes into our lives as we harden our hearts to the truth.
What’s the antidote? The love of God. The truth of God’s word and thinking His thoughts about ourselves. Retraining our thoughts. Always staying in gratitude.
Gratitude and appreciation are good for our brain and body. They are life-giving thoughts and words that release love. Gratitude gets us beyond ourselves and away from fear and lack and not deserving.
The next time you catch yourself starting a thought with “I feel like I don’t deserve ____” stay aware of that self-focus on a lie. Consciously choose gratitude and chances are, you’ll feel a physical difference. Make an “I’m so grateful for” list on paper. That’s a great way to begin and end your day. Open your heart to receiving God’s good gifts by taking the focus off yourself and putting it on gratitude.
A great post as usual! I love how you always put in real life day-to-day examples instead of just telling the principle of what you want to convey. It really makes it real and doable and not just some noble idea that needs worked on with no real plan to make it happen! Thanks for the reminder to keep a grateful attitude and congratulations on the new car and trip to Florida!!!
Aww, thanks Kim. I guess I’m just practical–theory is good but how does it translate to real life? 🙂
Thanks so much for the great reminder! Learning to receive is a great lesson. And once you open yourself to receive ANY gift that God is sending your way, you are so much more able to give even more away! Blessings to you! Enjoy your new wheels!
TRUTH, Diane! When we close ourselves off, it affects giving, too!
Thank you, I needed to hear this. I have been struggling with knowing how to balance where “I” should be. I too have a tendency to not enjoy what I receive because I don’t feel worthy. What a great reminder that I am who I am in Christ. I think I had better cut this one out and put it on my board. Thank you.
Wow, I’m honored. I think I’ve denied myself joy too many times by spoiling the receiving with my own false guilt. Sooo glad we have a God who loves us!!
Thanks for the encouraging posts Charlotte. We have home schooled our 6 children all their schooling years – our children are 27, 26, 23, 20, 18 and 10. I had similar feelings while my children were growing up but even though it was challenging raising them, I truly enjoyed the process and would do it all over again. I am happy to say that our children just bought my husband and I plane tickets to Hawaii for our 30th Anniversary and I immediately felt wonderful about it! We will be visiting our 3 children who are at the Bible school out in Kauai. God is good and His mercies are everlasting to those that fear Him. The Lord will give what is good. Psalm 85
Enjoy your blessings!
That is so awesome, Bridget!! Enjoy every minute!
This really hits home. After years of self-publishing I’ve been published by a small publisher and heard the words “royalties” and my name in the same sentence. I haven’t told anyone outside my immediate family. I just realized after reading this article that I don’t think I deserve it – I almost feel embarrassed to talk about it.
I do this with my writing – I don’t allow myself to write unless the house is in order and all my work as a wife and mother is done – I suppose you know how much time that leaves for something I love doing.
Now to change…
Isn’t it funny how something we’ve worked so hard for can trigger feelings of not deserving the thing we worked for?! It reveals another layer of healing that God can do in our hearts. I would encourage you to set aside some guilt-free writing time–that work is important and God is not the One keeping you from it! 🙂
Such great heart-felt advice, Charlotte. I love the snazzy-looking top you were wearing in the picture with your new car! Enjoy the new car and trip to Florida!
Very timely! I have worked at my present job for many years and recently received a prize of travel money, as a reward for years of service. I’m going on a cruise next week with my friend, but I’ve been feeling like I really shouldn’t (don’t deserve to?) go–I should do something for my kids, or whatever or whatever. My friend is very excited, so I’m making up my mind to be excited and ENJOY it! 🙂
I appreciate you reminding us to replace our belief of unworthiness with gratefulness. God has been using my husband for years now, helping me choose more feminine, fashionable attire. I had a belief system that I was too ugly for almost anything pretty. That was for the “beautiful people”–not one unworthy as I.
At times (especially swim times) I am overwhelmed with feeling ugly so much it could destroy family fun..it’s challenging.
Now I can know to not just try to ignore those thoughts of unworthiness, but replace them with gratitude. My family loves me..more importantly God loves me–even if humans find me unworthy. Thanks for a method to fight–along with God’s Word of course. : )
Great post, thank you. Need to come back to it periodically
This is sooo me that it made me cry. Thank you. I have been in a total I don’t deserve place. Now I’m getting better, but too slowly. I’m not a mother, but my husband, the dog and cat, and especially work ALWAYS come first – instead of the sometimes that would be healthy. Thank you!
Love your post came at a time when I really needed it.
There are too many who feel this way at times. It can be very disheartening.
I think for many people this is accurate, and a good observation. But it’s a lot different to have been horribly and repeatedly abused or bullied. The belief that I don’t deserve kindness or being treated well isn’t self-centeredness as much as it is just something I’ve been taught. God heals all but it’s very difficult to open my heart to his unconditional love when it’s hard for me to believe in something like love in the first place.
I agree that the more difficult the life circumstances, the longer the journey. I’m sorry for what’s been done to you and for the challenges you face as a result. I hope that you triumph and find love and healing.
Loved the article, but I do I agree with the poster that mentions that it’s usually just a learned behavior by a person being badly hurt, or even abused, often times in our relationships, or one’s we thought we could trust the most. Doesn’t mean that person is self-centered or selfish, at least in the negative sense or context that most understand it.
I really needed that! I almost got myself a guava passionfruit coconut milk drink at Starbuck’s and I talked my self out of it because, I didn’t really need it. Now tonight, I really want some ice cream because I’ve been exercising every day and deserve a treat. There are 3 of us here so I talked myself out of it because there are just 2 little pints and Yes I only want a scoop, but talked myself out of it because we didn’t have one for each of us. I find myself putting everyone before my needs, and I feel so low because I’ve been doing so many quotes for work, and no one has signed up for a while, so there’s that too. Your article was just what I need today! Thank you so much. I needed to hear that.
Thank you, I have battled with extreme guilt throughout my whole life, but it has been especially intense today. I happened to choose your page out of the thousands of search results only to find that you are an amazing woman of God. May He bless you for sharing this wise and truth-filled article. <3
Many times, I feel irresponsible when I don’t finish my home cleaning tasks. I also want to complete my lesson notes and ensure everything is perfect before I do what I enjoy doing. I also want everyone involved in the chores because it’s overwhelming. I think I should start doing things I love first. I may eat my frog in bits. Thanks for your advice