There’s this really pervasive belief that everything that does or doesn’t happen in our life comes down to worthiness and effort. It’s why when we don’t get what we need, want or expect, we default to the reasoning habit of blaming it on not being ‘good enough’. On some level, we believe that only some people deserve love and good things.

Thanks to our underlying feelings of low self-worth, we’ve spent most or all of our life overcompensating for our supposed lack of enoughness with the likes of people pleasing, perfectionism and settling for crumbs. And as a result, it makes absolutely no sense to us when someone we deem to be a ‘bad’ person is loved or enjoying good things.

This sense of unfairness can become all-consuming, fuelling resentment, envy, contempt, shame, and depressed feelings. We don’t recognise where this person’s experience highlights the mental gymnastics we engage in to continue with patterns that aren’t serving us.

‘Love’ isn’t about being a Good Person. It’s not a reward.

It’s only by removing the pre-requisite for a stellar performance, an unblemished record, and faultlessness and perfectionism, that we experience the vulnerability and extent of love.

If anything, knowing that love isn’t a reward for being a Good Person should be liberating. But for a lot of us, it isn’t.

We don’t like the antagonists in our story to be loved, to have good things (or at least not before us) because it upends the lies we’ve told ourselves. We definitely don’t want them to do well in life without having to break themselves as we do.

Saying we’re not ‘good enough’ and acting like love is a reward gaslights the hell out of us. It puts us in a double bind.

We say that everything we don’t like about our life is about our lack of worthiness, about not getting rewarded for being good, for our efforts. But we love people who are not always ‘good’ to us. We do. Hell, we love people who inadequately parent us, who don’t be and do enough.

So, either we don’t really love them, or we know deep down that all the things we blame on our worthiness aren’t our fault. They’re certainly not an I-must-accept-less-for-the-rest-of-my-days kind of thing.

We also know deep down that we don’t have to do all of, for example, the people pleasing. Continuing, though, lets us feel in control and anaesthetises us against the pain of the stories we’ve told us about ourselves and our experiences. It numbs the pain of what we’re doing. We also get to keep chasing the reward and the absolution we didn’t and don’t need in the first place.

If love isn’t a reward for being a Good Person, for doing all the things, who would you choose to be? Go do that. It’s more honest. It’s more loving.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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