A snow storm is blowing around like crazy outside. I love days like this. Storms are incredible creatures of nature. Now then, we left off in the early stages of a discussion about the complex threads attached to the psychic fields of “blame” and “deserve”. One conversation – or even two dozen – are not enough to get through all the territory of your inner self that these two words influence, if not dominate, but a beginning is worth everything because you can never take back a beginning step.
These words are trouble makers, no matter which way you use them. Consider this: they always direct you toward powerlessness and they encourage you to project expectations on to other people that inevitably incur resentment, either you toward them or a mutual resentment.
Consider what “deserve” means. Deserve is another word for “entitled”. Many people have told me that they believe that they are entitled to respect. I said, “From whom? Everyone? Does every single person know that? And what have you done to earn every single person’s respect? Is respect just to be given to you because you are who you are – special to you, but not to all these strangers?” And I have asked many people, “What would you say to someone who asked you, ‘What have you done to deserve the respect you are asking me to give you? I mean, I don’t know you, so tell me why you deserve my respect.” Some say, “Because I am a human being.” Fair enough. And of course, I then ask, “And based on that, do you respect every single person as much as you deserve to be respected just because they are a human being and deserve your respect, or is this a one-way deal?”
The attitude of “deserve”, as a rule, is a one-way street. Deserve or entitlement also assumes that at least one person, if not several, were born with the task of fulfilling your expectations. I mean, expectations do not get filled by themselves. Someone has to “make” you happy; someone has to “provide” security and safety; someone has to “provide” love.
Entitlements require a massive support system and when that support system falls apart, many individuals become enraged with resentments. Why? Because they really believe that they were entitled to happy marriages, huge salaries, a life without disease – and aging, if possible – all comforts, and so on.
Teresa of Avila (the saint I adore), taught her nuns – and all her study her work – that there are no such thing as entitlements. No one is entitled to anything. That is a hardcore truth – and it does hit hard. But she follows it up with an even more exquisite truth: Look into the eyes of someone who loves you. And then watch them when they are not looking at you and then close your eyes are retreat to your inner Well. Take a deep breath and drop a tiny pebble into your Well and listen for the most delicate of soft ripples. And dwell on this Truth: I am not entitled to that person or any person loving me – and yet, that person loves me. That person feels that his or her entire world is a far more beautiful place because I am in it. I do not have the power in me to make any one love me that much. How is it that this partner or this friend or this child has come to love me so dearly? That type of love is a blessing, not an entitlement. I am loved not because I deserve it but because I am blessed to be loved by another. I did not make love happen to me; love was given to me. And I must learn to love without ever thinking whether someone is entitled to be loved by me. I must ask myself: How loving can I be? If I am entitled to anything in this life, I am entitled to discovering the depth to which I am capable of loving others.
I want to thank all of you so much for sharing your thoughts and prayers and personal stories so openly. What a wondrous community of spiritual companions you are becoming.