When You Believe the “I don’t deserve” voice

“I will not try to convince you to love me, to respect me, to commit to me. I deserve better than that; I AM BETTER THAN THAT…Goodbye.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

“Make the most of what you have and keep your standards high. Never settle for anything less than you deserve or are capable of achieving.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Yes, I deserve a spring–I owe nobody nothing.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary

“Somewhere in this small world, you can find a place where everyone appreciates you more than you think you deserve.”

Have you ever said to yourself, “The reason God doesn’t love me is because I don’t deserve to be loved,” “The reason my partner isn’t loving to me is that I don’t deserve to be loved”? Do you feel like you don’t deserve happiness? Do you feel like you don’t deserve anything good?

You’re not alone in this statement, and there’s a reason for this feeling.

Many times in my past, I’ve said that I don’t deserve to be happy, I felt others were the ones destined to have everything good. I truly felt like I didn’t deserve my job, I felt like I didn’t deserve the friendships I have, I felt I didn’t deserve to have anything , I felt that others should have what I have. Over time, I have come to realize that I was wrong, and I have also discovered that I am not alone, many people all over the world often feel this way too.

If you feel like you don’t deserve, it probably apply to many areas of your life. For some people with these feelings, they feel that they don’t deserve love…or they don’t deserve money or financial freedom…or they don’t deserve to have a healthy fit body…it all depends…

What Happens When You Believe “I don’t deserve”

It affects so many things in your life and some of them are your ability:

  • To be loved
  • To be fit and fabulous
  • To have financial freedom
  • To have the life you really do want
  • To create magnificent relationships

This belief of “I don’t deserve” goes hand in hand with the belief “I am not worthy.” The first question that I ask myself and others who have one or both of these beliefs is “Who told you that?” Quite often, there will be one instance, at a young age when that happened. In other instances, it will be a series of life events, such as a bad relationship that was traumatic or abusive, that led the person to believe that.

Here are some of the common sources of this belief “I don’t deserve” in our lives:

Past mistakes(s)

Here folks look back on their lives and only see what they’ve done wrong, the people they’ve hurt. Their lives are a chronicle of destruction and sadness; guilt and regret are their primary emotions. Their unhappiness is a penance they forever pay.

Survivor’s guilt

Elvis Presley’s twin brother died shortly after his birth, and it is said that Elvis was always haunted by a guilt that he had survived and his twin brother had not. This survivor’s guilt is also what likely plagues that Secret Service agent, those who survived a plane crash when others didn’t, or first responders who feel they didn’t do enough to save a victim. This is guilt often laden with a heavy dose of post-traumatic stress.


I’ve met women who were sexually abused as children, who came away from that trauma thinking that they were “dirty.” And because they believed they were, they felt that they were not worthy to have children of their own.

Childhood trauma not only leaves emotional scars, it leaves the child with a distorted view of themselves; they live with self-blame, with a fear of replicating these wounds, with a view of a world forever unsafe, clouding any feelings of happiness.

Death of a close relative

When you love someone with all your heart, whether it’s a partner, a close friend, or a relative, you are seeing them as one of the foundations of your life. As something that you can rely on. So, when they die, whether it is your mom, dad, sibling, partner, or close friend, you feel as if life does not have a purpose. You feel gloomy and depressed. You feel like there is a never-ending emptiness inside of you and a void that needs to be filled. Laughing, talking, and feeling happy makes you feel guilty, and you question yourself, ‘why am I laughing? How can I feel even an ounce of happiness when someone so close to me has left this world?’

The death of a close one tends to take a toll on our mental and physical health. We keep thinking about them, about how we did not appreciate them enough and how we could and should have done things so differently, filling our hearts and minds with painful regrets.

Believe us when we say, none of the above-mentioned reasons are so big that it stops you from being happy. There can be no reason in the world which is big enough to make you feel like you do not deserve happiness.

Parental worry

“A parent is only as happy as her unhappiest child.” Many parents feel this because parenting doesn’t get switched off at age 18. Their worries, at times their guilt, and their feelings of helplessness can become a drag on everyday life.

Critical self-image

Those who are constantly critical of themselves — those who are perfectionistic, hard-driven, who come from critical or abusive childhoods — are essentially stuck at the bottom of a well with few or no ways to get out. If happiness is based on who you are, and who you are is based on what you do, and if everything has to be perfect, then your successes are rare. While you may try for a time to hit the mark, over time you may begin to realize you can’t. All you are left with is this angry voice in your head reminding you how you always screw up, how you’re a loser, how you will never be good enough, a recipe for chronic unhappiness.

You never saw happiness in your home growing up.  

Here, I describe how growing up in a negative home can paralyze you in adulthood.  When you see a marriage where one or both people are depressed or anxious, and there is limited joy (like this), you do not learn to associate adulthood with happiness.  Instead it is associated with burden, stress, sorrow, or anger.

Your partner tells you so.  

In abusive relationships (like this one), a partner makes it clear to you that you are a subpar person and do not deserve anything good.  If we want to look at the larger picture here, getting into a relationship with a person like this generally means that you experienced similar treatment by a parent when growing up.  Then you pick someone who you think you deserve, who then exacerbates any existing issues you have with self-esteem.

Terrible body image.  

Although it sounds strange to those who have not experienced it, a majority of women and increasing numbers of men do not, on a core level, truly believe they deserve to be happy when they are overweight or “unattractive.”  The world is filled with young girls who assume their boyfriend problems are because they aren’t thin enough (like this girl).  If you are waiting until you are thin or attractive or fit enough to start enjoying your life, therapy can help you learn self-compassion and how to live the life you deserve.

You are a  people pleaser. 

Such people are raised to think their entire value is to make others happy, by working harder than everyone else (either on the job or to make sure nobody is ever unhappy, or both).  In this case, the person may, if asked, respond that they deserve to be happy, sure, but they have honestly never really thought about it.  They are far too busy living up to others’ expectations and fulfilling obligations to everyone else.  

How to stop saying, “I don’t deserve to be happy”

Portrait of a handsome student guy reading a book in his bed. Education  concept. photo by fxquadro on Envato Elements

Well, basically, you have to stop this. Otherwise, you will shorten your life, and you will make others around you miserable as well. I’m not trying to sound mean, I’m just telling you exactly what happens when you let this feeling possess your mind.

If people made you feel this way, guess what some of them are probably doing. They’re probably out there enjoying their life, and not thinking another thing about how they treated you. I know, it’s unfair.

So, this is why you have to start somewhere to gain back your self-worth. Here are a few ways to do that:

Just Shut Off the negative voices

Some people are massively critical of themselves…I am sure that you’re not like that…but there are some people who are…and it is SO difficult for them to take that negative inner voice and tell it to shut up…and sometimes, that is exactly what you need to do…tell that negative, complaining, whining voice in your head to JUST SHUT UP…or turn the dial on it and make the volume so low that you can’t hear it…

…and when you have done that…we are going to give credit…where credit is due…sit down with a pen/pencil and paper and draw a line down the centre of that piece of paper. At the top on the left hand side, label it My Strengths…and on the right hand side, label if My Weaknesses.

Then fill it out…be as specific as you can. When you are done, if you are like most people, you will find that the side labeled weaknesses will be full. The side labelled strengths will be smaller. Tear that piece of paper in half, down the centre line that you have drawn. That’s right…

Take a good look at the half that is labelled My Weaknesses and see if they really are…they might not be… for example, if you said that you are compulsively tidy, I want you to cross that out and rewrite it on the other half as “extremely organized”.  If you can find a way to rephrase…or reframe how you have been seeing your weaknesses, do it…if you can’t…that’s fine.

Once you have gone through all of those descriptions and transferred the reframed ones to the Strengths list…take a good look…those traits that you criticize in yourself have value to other people…

Focus on what is right with you. Focus on those strengths. Realize that your skills and strengths have value. You have value. You deserve.

You DO deserve all that you dream of and work toward, no more or less than anyone else.

You have the choice to begin letting it in.

It won’t happen if you don’t also take intentional action – but without the mindset part, you will spin your wheels and not make the progress you desire.

Are you revved up to start getting your mind on your side and to digesting and believing that the abundance you dream of for your life is not connected to being deserving?

Step one is to dig through your memory and help yourself work through some of the hard stuff that comes up surrounding your youth and upbringing. Or maybe it was in your adult years that cultivated this lack of deserving. Past trauma, disappointments, or addictions that have led you to feel blocked when it comes to receiving love, money, health, freedom, and joy into your life.

I suggest – Get yourself a journal. Everyday, write down at least one thing that made you happy for that day. It can be anything, a song you hear or a color that makes you feel good, anything! Just write it down. Eventually, and it doesn’t take that long, you will start to notice the things that make you happy more and more. Also keep the back of the journal for anything that you are grateful for – or combine both and see the effects!

Forgive often; forgive easily.

Life is hard. People are messy – they do dumb, short-sighted, inconsiderate things constantly. They say things they don’t mean out of anger, sadness, and fear. They do things that will harm themselves and others because they may not know any better. Or worse, maybe they do know better and still choose to do the wrong thing. You probably have some of your own regrets about past actions.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools for improving your peace and quality of thought. Unfortunately, many people interpret forgiveness as the process of an apology. For example, Jane did something wrong to Mark, she realizes she did something wrong, she apologizes. Mark accepts the apology and offers her forgiveness. And while that is probably the most common way to think of forgiveness, that’s not usually what people mean in that context.

Instead, forgiveness is something you can quietly give to yourself and other people without an apology. In the same scenario, Mark doesn’t need Jane’s apology for her wrongdoing. He could instead look at the situation, look at the wrong action, and decide that he will not let Jane’s action bother him. Mark can internally forgive her for being a flawed, messy human who did something cruel, insensitive, or malicious because she just doesn’t know any better.

People who are cruel or malicious usually don’t end up that way because they’ve had a good life or make good decisions. They are often acting out of their own anger, pain, sadness, or ignorance.

I don’t deserve love because I’m not attractive – FALSE

Let’s get something out there right away: No matter what you may believe, you are 100% not too unattractive to be loved.

Take a look around you; I mean a really close look and not just at the ones who rate as ‘pretty’ in our (somewhat unrealistic) culture.

You’ll see that there are people of every shape and size; people of all different colors; people with a whole range of different facial features; people who are differently able to do things.

There are people out there who may look outwardly perfect but believe that they are ‘ugly’ due to flaws that are invisible to everyone else.

And then there are those who would grace any beauty magazine cover but don’t have a brain in their heads or are incapable of loving any other being than their beautiful selves.

The word attractive doesn’t even have anything to do with the way you look. What it means, literally, is having the ability to attract others and it’s never just superficial looks that achieve that.

If you’re looking for ways to make yourself more attractive, rather than the superficial stuff, one of the things that is most attractive traits is actually the ability to listen, to be truly interested in what others have to say.

Being a good and animated conversationalist is guaranteed to bring dividends that hiding yourself away because you mistakenly believe you aren’t pretty enough never can.

Get out there and do what you do, be who you are. Find like-minded souls who share your passion for Star Wars or hiking the backwoods or wandering the halls of museums.

While you’re following your interests and sharing them with others, the way you look becomes secondary to the way you’re experiencing life and all it offers. And that enthusiasm can be very attractive indeed.

And all the while, pay attention to the way you present yourself. It’s so easy to let things slide if you believe yourself to be unattractive and then it becomes self-fulfilling.

Clean clothes and hair are a must; stand up tall, paste on a smile and fix those bright eyes on the world around you. Remember that people who are interested are interesting.


So, your self-esteem isn’t the best, well, neither was mine. The one thing that helped me build a bit of self-esteem was being alone for a while. I had to do this in order to learn who I was separate from any other human. You see, self-esteem cannot be dependent on anyone but you.

Remember what I tell you now: You are worth it. You are an important member of the human race. You’re beautiful, inside and out. Forget society’s standards. They mean nothing. What matters is what you know about yourself stripped clean of any insults, hurts, or betrayals.

Just take some time and work on these thoughts. Then make a new foundation.

Forgive and let go

Stop saying that you don’t deserve to be happy. Even if your loved one dies before they ever make peace with you, forgiving yourself is important, and it cultivates happiness. I personally know several people who never had closure with relatives, and they harbor such toxic self-hatred. However, it’s usually projected towards others.

So, first of all, truly forgive yourself for whatever you’ve done, then leave the ball in their court. If they don’t accept the apologies you give, then you still have to move on. Always love them, but also move away from the past. You just have to. Let it go.


Okay, I will say that some manipulating people can change, but for the most part, they don’t change enough. If you’re being manipulated into thinking you don’t deserve happiness, then you have to get out of that situation, one way or the other. The first thing you need is proof of how you’re being treated.

Stop punishing yourself for being human.

You messed up. You messed up big time. Guess what? Everyone has! And if they haven’t yet, they will sooner or later.

Life can be hard to get right every time, even in the best of circumstances. At some point, you will have to choose not to beat yourself up because of your mistakes.

Some people trap themselves in the woe and what-ifs of their bad decisions or decisions that didn’t work out for them.

“If only I hadn’t done this or that…”

“If only I had acted sooner…”

“If only I had taken that chance…”

And for what? Does that blame and rumination actually do anything positive? No! It’s all about punishing oneself for some perceived wrong. And it’s not always about actually being wrong. Sometimes you can lay the best plans, it seems like everything is going to work out, and then it just doesn’t happen. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

The past is gone. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Change your thoughts when you find yourself contemplating the what-ifs and beating yourself up. Bring yourself back to the present, focus on what you want to get accomplished, and look for your present goals. If you don’t have any goals, create some. It’ll give you something productive to think about.

You are worthy.

Decide to ramp up your self-care. Choose to unravel those deep-rooted emotions that may be stopping you from riding the abundance train.

Cheers to digging out the truth to uncover why you have that feeling of not deserving anything. You’re going to find it’s playing a part in preventing you from receiving what you desire! It’s not about whether you are deserving or not! Start believing that your dreams are available to you. 

You are valuable & lovable

If we don’t love ourselves, why should anyone else? Self-rejection works like negative hypnosis: the more negative Beliefs the stronger your self-doubt will become. Before you can form a close bond with another human being, you must first of all understand the most important Saving the relationship of your life: the relationship with yourself.

Realize that you are unique and wonderful – just the way you are right here, right now. You are perfect right this second and no matter what you do, think or feel, you will always be valuable and lovable. A little guide for more mindfulness and acceptance can be found in our magazine article “How to learn to love yourself“. In addition, you should avoid dealing with people who tell you the opposite. Whoever says that you are not worthy of receiving love should no longer be among your close circle of friends or acquaintances. Because you are worth it!

Build connections

Avoid giving in to the urge to do everything yourself. Instead, turn to classmates, academic peers, and coworkers to create a network of mutual support.

Remember, you can’t achieve everything alone. Your network can:

  • offer guidance and support
  • validate your strengths
  • encourage your efforts to grow

Sharing feelings can also help others in the same position feel less alone. It also creates the opportunity to share strategies for overcoming these feelings and related challenges you might encounter.

Challenge your doubts

When imposter feelings surface, ask yourself whether any actual facts support these beliefs. Then, look for pieces of evidence to counter them.

Say you’re considering applying for a promotion, but you don’t believe you have what it takes. Maybe a small mistake you made on a project a few months ago still haunts you. Or perhaps you think the coworkers who praise your work mostly just feel sorry for you.

Fooling all of your coworkers would be pretty difficult, though, and poor work probably wouldn’t go unnoticed long term.

If you consistently receive encouragement and recognition, that’s a good sign you’re doing plenty right — and deserve a chance for promotion.

Avoid comparing yourself to others

Everyone has unique abilities. You are where you are because someone recognized your talents and your potential.

You may not excel in every task you attempt, but you don’t have to, either. Almost no one can “do it all.” Even when it seems like someone has everything under control, you may not know the full story.

It’s OK to need a little time to learn something new, even if someone else seems to grasp that skill immediately.

Instead of allowing others’ success to highlight your flaws, consider exploring ways to develop the abilities that interest you.

Past regrets need to be let go

How to forgive someone and the health benefits of forgiveness, both mental  and physical | South China Morning Post
  • The past is a period of time that is fixed in stone. You cannot change it.
  • Mistakes that you have made opportunities that you have missed cannot be changed.
  • The main purpose of the past is for us to look at it and learn from what we have done and what’s happened to us.  Armed with that information, we can make changes in the present moment and stop those things from happening again in our future.
  • Every decision that we make, and the actions that we take based on those decisions, occur because you are trying to do the best that you can with what you have at the time and what you know at the time.
  • Certainly looking back from where we are in the present moment we can be critical of things that we have done or believed in the past.
  • Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but hindsight is based on our current knowledge and wisdom.
  • You are a different person in a different place than where you were a couple of years ago. Please don’t judge your past shelf harshly; you did not have the benefit of what you have now.
  • Certainly, if it’s possible to make amends for what you’ve done in the past then do so, but mostly you can’t do anything.

Take away thought: Believing that we deserve love, joy, peace, happiness or achievements etc begins with one crucial factor: A healthy degree of self-love and a strong sense of self-worth. Without these, finding happiness from others or material things, just the way we are, will be impossible. Once you start to treat yourself with love and respect, others will follow suit. You won’t abide by mistreatment; you won’t want to be around people who set conditions on their love, who want you to change to fit their expectations. You will set healthy, reasonable boundaries. You will be filled with such an abundance of self-love that love from others will simply be an added bonus.

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