What I Deserve

Before I settle down with a can of Stella to watch the boys take on the English, I’ll start in on this whole topic of deserving. People believe they deserve a whole bunch of stuff and they believe that they don’t deserve other things like say, love. Many believe they deserve a whacking great salary, recognition, fame, attention, kudos etc. They believe that they do not deserve to have to wait in line. They deserve top-notch medical treatment. They think that offenders deserve prison sentences. Others seem to think that if a girl gets drunk and wears a short skirt she deserves whatever happens to her. There is a whole lot of deserving going on.

And when we don’t get what we deem ourselves deserving of we can get pissed off and sulky. It is not fair.

This whole thing is a bit weird for me because insofar as I can tell, I am not hung up on this deserving thing. As a consequence, I rarely make any demands. I am neutral on deserving. Way back when I was still seriously applying for jobs there always came the question about salary expectations, I didn’t have any. Never was salary the issue for me. Insofar as I can tell this freaked people out. If stuff happens it is not because I deserved it, it is not because I am unworthy, it just happens.

Not quite sure where all this “deserving” stems from, exactly who sets the bar as to what we are entitled to? Does God have a remuneration committee which dishes stuff out and to which we can apply? I don’t think so. Do we have to make a case, a justification for our next girlfriend or house? It is odd…

Maybe there is some social consensus which decides who deserves what and when.

I suspect that this whole concept of deserving is a human invention. Something made-up and therefore imaginary. If I don’t believe in deserving, then perhaps I deserve whatever I get for my lack of faith in deserving? I do believe in karma, cause and effect, there is no need to colour it with a deserving hue.

There is a whole lot of deserving going on.

Weird…

Entitlement and Suffering

Entitlement is a close but more extreme relative of expectation and has taking things for granted as a constituent. If one is entitled then the universe (and other people), must grant your every wish. Somehow one has accrued the right to deserve whatever it is you may want. One expects even demands that the entitlement is fulfilled. It is related to wanting to have life on your own terms, but again a more extreme version thereof.

There are two poles to entitlement, one is what you expect for yourself and the other is what you inflict upon others, both cause suffering.

Entitlement can stem from upbringing, some may be born that way, they may believe that they are owed by the universe, by God even. Needless to say, if the rare and otherwise impossible situation arises when expectation isn’t met, suffering follows. People can feel angry, sulky, hard-done-by, frustrated, exasperated and all it-is-not fair-mummy. If there is a strong sense of entitlement, people can feel the urge to share of their mood. They might kick the cat or vent at the nearest person. When entitlements aren’t met, resentment follows. And this can brew and fester for a long time.

When one has this sense, it is their divine right to inflict their will on others. They can inflict their frustration as above. They may believe that they are due high position and power, thereby justifying whatever means is needed to secure this. Along the way they may cut corners, it doesn’t matter because all they are doing is securing that which they were entitled to in the first place. They can be manipulative to secure that which they are entitled to. It is all “justifiable”.

People can feel entitled to all kinds of things, praise, money, happiness, position, love, sex and of course attention. When these don’t materialise at the waving of a wand, disappointment and suffering ensues. Sometimes people feel entitled simply to take without asking.

Once you let go of entitlement, suffering reduces. This sense of entitlement runs deep and is hidden under a whole bunch of other stuff.  It may be quite tricky to even lessen it a little. To an extent we all have some entitlement issues, otherwise we would never feel victimized. It is entirely human to feel hard done by at least once in life and that the universe or fate has it in for us. No human is ever entirely without at least some resentment, some have it in spades. It is possible that people carry a whole quiver full of grudges the length of days.

In my own recapitulation I found the themes of entitlement and resentment fertile for examination. They led to some murky places, rich with learning. Until one can let go of these there is suffering. Sometimes life is just like it is and nothing can be done about it, there is no need to get sulky or het up.

As an exercise:

Do I have a sense of entitlement, strong or otherwise?

What is my basis for feeling owed by the universe?

Do I have resentment?

What do I resent?

Why do I resent these?