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Simply because I am.

"I don't deserve to be treated that way!"

"You deserve a raise!"

"What did I do to deserve this?!"

"I hope she gets what she deserves..."

Recently, my ear has been sensitive to how people use of the word deserve. It shows up between friends, on tv shows, with clients, on social media... It seems to be a very common and accepted way to talk about things we perceive to be right or wrong. Our use seems to have energy behind it, a little zip, if you will. We often use it emphatically, really accentuating how right or wrong something is.

I feel a scratch of dissonance when I hear it. There is something about this word, our use of it, that just rubs against me, but I haven't been able to put my finger on it. My impulse is that it is not a helpful word in our language and we should probably eradicate it! Without thinking too much or too deeply, my hit is that there is something about it that distracts us from seeing what is more true, or being more clear about what is going on under the surface.

What I know is that when we perceive a run like this - with a situation, a memory, a relationship, a word, we benefit by turning towards it and seeking to understand what is really going on, first for ourselves and then perhaps in a way that may benefit others. I call this leaning in to the discomfort, the inquiry.

The question I simply pose to myself is this: What might I gain by turning towards this word with a gentle willingness to be with the discomfort I feel around it? You, dear reader, get to witness my little process here. My invitation to you is to notice what comes up for you. Where do you feel a rub? A resonance? Just notice...and then keep leaning in!


A Mini History: Deserve

The word originally came from Latin "deservire", which means to serve well or zealously. I appreciate the notion of serving well, or being of service to someone or something. This is a natural aspect of who we are as essentially good and compassionate relational beings. Do we always show up this way? Well, no. But if we strip away fear and the muck of the ego, I believe our natural inclination is towards kindness. Perhaps I digress, perhaps not, but I'll continue by simply noting that the Latin definition also refers to devoting oneself to an interest or a job, which just captures service in another way. As a verb, it describes a way we act in the world. I imagine people helping one another (and then also perhaps noting when people weren't helping one another) and they created this word deservire to help them make sense of what they were expereincing.

Since one of my poo-poos against our present day use of "deserve" is that it doesn't help us, what this story I am telling myself (because it is just that: a story) I recognize that the word initially came into existence precisely to help us. On whatever level, it helped people describe this action of service from one to another.

Well, from Latin, the word went through Old French -> "deservir," and then through Middle English, where it came out as "deserve".

In present day, the Oxford dictionary defines it as a verb: to do something or have or show qualities of {reward or punishment}. Merriam-Webster defines it as: to be worthy of: merit; to be worthy, fit or suitable for some reward or requital. As in to earn, to be or make worthy.


Feeling the Rub

This is where I feel the rub, because the word is pretty darn subjective. Some party is determining worth, fit or suitability of some other party. I think of systems of oppression and one group self-determining that they of higher inherent rank than another, and then subjecting their judgment on those they self-determine are below them.

And I am not okay with that. I disagree with the belief that some people are inherently more important than others. Period.

Now, if you want to set up objective expectations for achievement and rank employees according to how they demonstrate their skill in a work place, that's a different story. Someone can legit "deserve" a raise because they did the specific x, y, and z thing that was laid out.

If there are objective expectations for whether or not a thing, or person, or whatever, is a fit, that makes more sense to me than trying to prove a subjective case. But in day to day relating, we don't generally have clear objective expectations.


Facing Discomfort

But I think that's where things get tricky...because so much of life IS subjective! We all have different preferences, capacities, talents. And its fine when they sync up and we are getting along, but what about when we don't sync up? What about when we aren't getting along? That is scary! And uncomfortable! And potentially life-threatening! And we better do something to make sense of this!

We make our selves crazy coming up with rules of engagement to try an keep ourselves safe. That's what I really think is at the heart of this whole thing. We are terrified that we aren't lovable, aren't enough, aren't worthy. In fact, on a very primal level it is so scary, that we spend countless minutes and hours and years trying to PROVE that we are. I call this "the Hustle."

Heck, I even made a little course on help you realize you can Stop the Hustle...and when you do, that's when you can really start living fully. {Check it out HERE!}

But there is no person on earth that can determine YOUR worth. Really take this in: there is no one outside of you that can determine YOUR lovability or enoughness.

There is nothing you can do to ensure that you are worthy. There is no action you can take to secure your lovability or enoughness any more than it is already secured.

Why? Because you just ARE! From the very moment you were born, you have been worthy of whatever you want to be worthy of. Your essence is WORTH! You have been lovable from the very beginning of YOU. You have always been enough.


And you always will be.


This I Believe

The Universe IS eternal. It's qualities are Love, Plenty, Wisdom, Freedom, Balance, Connection, Wholeness. I don't believe the Universe is partial or swayed one way or another. It does not pour these qualities over one and not another, or require us to prove anything to receive Itself. It is simply the truth of that which we are. Our birthright, if you will.

It is up to each one of us to receive this, to accept the reality that we already ARE worthy. That we are Love, Plenty, Wisdom and Freedom simply because we exist. We qualify for Connection simply because we are.

When we engage in talk of deserving, we are agreeing that it is possible that one might not deserve. If you are talking about a potential raise, in an organization that has objective expectations to determine eligibility, using the word deserve may be helpful.

But if you are talking about a human being's worthiness for love, or understanding, or kindness, what if you simply agree that the simply are worthy of that? And what if you receive the truth that you, too, are worthy of that? What if we leave deserve out of the conversation?

I'm going to take this inquiry into my week and see how it plays out. I'm willing to see what is on the other side of leaving deserve out of the conversation. What about you?

Drop me a note and let me know what you are thinking about. @exerciseyoursoul  or

With curiosity and openness,



Rachel Sartori is a Transformational Coach + Facilitator. She is kick-ass and heart-

centered whether she is showing up as a workshop/retreat facilitator, a private coach, a writer or a speaker. Rachel invites you to exercise your soul, and participate in the healing of your own heart and the world around you. With Rachel, all is welcome, all the time.

Read: Exercise Your Soul: Ignite Healing and Wholeness in your Life and Live from the Inside Out

Read: How to Uplevel Your Life: Because You Deserve More than just Surviving

Follow Rachel:

Save the Date: Awaken Your Senses Workshop | April 27, 2024 | Phoenix, AZ

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