If you’re a blogger, or you do any other kind of writing, I’ll bet you’re familiar with the nagging worry that you “don’t have the right” to say what you’re saying. Perhaps you’ve been writing a piece about happiness, for instance, and started wondering if it was okay for you to write it without a Ph.D. in psychology. Or maybe you’ve just had a vague, unsettling sense that you should know or accomplish more before you put that article out there.
You’ve likely figured this out already, but getting another degree probably won’t help you overcome this feeling. Doing that may have others see you as qualified, but it won’t do much to change your self-perception. I know several people with advanced degrees in their fields who constantly fret over whether they’re qualified to write what they’re writing.
You’ll Never “Earn The Right”
I want to offer a different perspective in this post. Usually, when we get the sense that we don’t have the right to do something, we assume we can fix the situation through hard work — going back to school, waiting until we’ve got more experience running our business, and so on.
For a moment, try on the possibility that “not having the right” isn’t a fixable problem. It’s an idea you have about your basic identity as a person, much like your height or age. To your mind, you’re a person who’s undeserving, and that’s how it’s always going to be — just as you’re never going to change, say, what country you were born in.
For me, as well as for people I’ve worked with, learning to see the issue this way has been liberating. Although it can be distressing to realize you see yourself as undeserving, getting conscious of this belief is a major step toward letting go of it. This awareness also allows you to give up the futile quest to “deserve what you want,” which frees up a lot of time and energy.
Who Do You Think You Are?
One reason it’s hard to give up that feeling of undeservingness is that it’s so common. So many people are going through life believing they don’t deserve to do what they want. When you do something ambitious or adventurous — something they’d never let themselves do — you threaten their sense of identity, and they get anxious and defensive.
I think this is why, when we start a new project, we tend to get pointed questions from others, like “who do you think you are?” and “what qualifies you to say that?” (I suspect a lot of the anonymous, profanity-laced comments people leave on blogs are driven by the same feeling.)
When we remember these questions are fueled by a feeling of undeservingness, we can respond with compassion instead of anger. The people who question our “right” to do what we want are going through the same doubts and fears we’ve experienced. Hopefully, by staying on our path, we can shake up their worldview, and help them question the limits they’re putting on themselves.
|Steve's Quest, the animated musical comedy, is coming soon. To stay updated, sign up via the show's Facebook page or follow the creator on Twitter.|