A man was walking through the woods thinking about his worries and his many problems. Exhausted, he stopped to rest in the shade of a tree, but it was a magical tree that instantly granted all the wishes of anyone who touched it.
The man was thirsty, so he thought to himself that he would love to have fresh water. Instantly, a glass of cold water appeared in his hand. Surprised, he looked at the water and drank it. When he quenched his thirst, he realized that he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. Suddenly, a plate of good food appeared before him.
“My wishes come true,” the man thought incredulously.
“If really it is like that, I want to have a beautiful home”, he said aloud.
The house appeared in the meadow that stretched out in front of him. A big smile crossed his face as he wished to have servants to take charge of that wonderful house. When they appeared, he realized that he had somehow been blessed with incredible power and wished he had a beautiful, loving and intelligent woman with whom to share his good fortune.
When the woman appeared before his eyes, the man said: “Wait a minute, this is ridiculous. I have never been so lucky in life. This cannot be happening to me!”
He had not finished saying those words when everything disappeared.
Resigned, the man said to himself: “I knew it, something so wonderful could not happen to me”. And he went away crestfallen thinking about his many problems.
To many people, like the man of the story, happen wonderful things that then vanish as if by magic simply because they think they do not deserve them. This parable invites us to reflect on what we expect from life and what we believe we can achieve.
To achieve what you want, you must first believe that you deserve it
We tend to think that our world is built on facts. But the facts are just one variable in a much more complex equation. We constantly interpret these facts, and doing so we give them a meaning according to our conception of life and the image we have of ourselves. Then our certainties come into play, which originally were presumptions.
A presumption implies taking something for granted starting from certain indications, to the point that later it becomes a certainty. When that presumption becomes a certainty it will end up influencing our way of interpreting the events that occur to us. Like the man of the story, when we have the certainty that we do not deserve something, sooner or later we will lose it.
When we believe that we are not valuable enough to achieve certain goals, a mechanism will be activated within us to confirm that presumption, turning it into a certainty. Then we begin to sabotage ourselves, usually at the unconscious level.
This is because we hate cognitive dissonance. That is to say, once we have formed an idea about ourselves, everything that refutes it or makes it falter becomes a cognitive dissonance. In our interior is activated an alarm to ensure that our “ego” remains stable. The problem is that sometimes the mechanism of self-protection prevents us from growing and, like the man of the story, prevents us from reaching more ambitious goals.
Therefore, if we believe that we do not deserve something, we will find a way to prevent us from achieving it. That mechanism can be seen in a relationship, when we find such a marvelous person that we believe is too good to be true and we end up sabotaging the relationship, perhaps with jealousy or distrust. It can also happen at work, when we are given a good opportunity that we do not give credit to, so the fear of making mistakes and insecurity end up making us lose that chance. Thus we get stuck in a vicious circle in which we end up saying: “It was too good to be true”.
The problem is that when we accept those changes, we also force ourselves to change the image we have of ourselves. And that is a complicated process that not everyone is willing to take on. Many prefer to stay in their comfort zone, complaining about their “bad luck”, without realizing that many times they themselves contribute to the events taking that negative turn.
Feeling undeserving generates a resistance to positive change. Thus we will condemn ourselves to a mediocre life in which only the negative prophecies we have made about our future are fulfilled.
Do not become your main limit: How to break this vicious circle?
“We ignore our true height until we stand up”, said Emily Dickinson. The curious thing is that generally the education we receive, the society and the people around us are those who prefer that we stay seated. It is more comfortable for everyone.
Therefore, the first step to achieve what you desire is to get rid of the “certainties” that are limiting you. Those things that you assume as absolute truths are actually presumptions whose origin can probably be traced back to your past. The feeling of not being able enough or feeling unworthy, comes usually from experiences lived during childhood or adolescence. It is even likely that these “certainties” are words repeated to you by your parents, teachers or other significant people in your life.
With their words, they helped to shape the image you have of yourself. However, you must realize that a static “ego” is an “ego” that doesn’t grow. Cognitive dissonance is not a negative thing you should be feared of but it is actually a sign that you’re thinking autonomously, you’re changing and evolving.
While you work to forgive yourself for those deep-rooted thoughts that hold you back and prevent you from reaching your dreams, you’ll discover that you begin to feel better, lighter and relieved. Little by little you’ll be preparing yourself to take full advantage of the good opportunities that come on your way in life, instead of sabotaging them.