I don't deserve to be happy

“I Don’t Deserve to Be Happy”: How to Own Your Happiness

“I don’t deserve to be happy.”

Have you ever heard a friend say this? Have you ever said it yourself? 

In a world that places so much emphasis on external markers of success and worth, it’s easy to neglect your own happiness. Constant comparison can make you feel like you need to do more to earn the right to feel happy. This is when the destructive thought “I don’t deserve to be happy” can creep in.

Let’s explore how to challenge negative thoughts, practice self-compassion, and take ownership of your happiness.

“I Don’t Deserve to Be Happy”: Challenging the Belief

Many people struggle with the belief that they don’t deserve happiness. They engage in negative self-talk, self-doubt, and the belief that they are flawed and undeserving of joy. 

It’s crucial to recognize that these thoughts are just thoughts, not reflective of one’s true worth.

Reasons for Thinking You Don’t Deserve to Be Happy

You might feel like you don’t deserve to be happy for various reasons. 

Trauma, even seemingly minor negative experiences, can have a profound impact on your self-perception. When painful things happen to us, we often internalize the message that we are somehow to blame or deserve the mistreatment. It’s important to remember that no one deserves to be traumatized, regardless of the circumstances.

person sitting with head down

Negative comments and criticism from loved ones can also erode your self-esteem. When you hear disparaging remarks about yourself repeatedly, you may start to believe them and become overly self-critical. You might even see yourself as a terrible person, unworthy of love and happiness. It’s essential to recognize that these comments say more about the person making them than they do about your inherent worth.

Guilt, particularly survivor’s guilt after traumatic events, can also contribute to feelings of unworthiness. You feel guilty like you don’t deserve happiness when others have suffered or lost their lives. However, it’s important to challenge this belief and recognize that your survival is not something to feel ashamed about. Honoring your life and finding ways to thrive is a way to pay tribute to those who were less fortunate.

Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can further reinforce the notion that you don’t deserve happiness. It’s crucial to remember that mental illness is not a character flaw or a personal failing. It’s a legitimate health condition that requires care and support, just like any physical ailment.

How These Thoughts Can Negatively Impact You

Holding onto the belief that you don’t deserve happiness can have far-reaching consequences. When you feel unworthy, you may consciously or unconsciously sabotage your own success and well-being. This can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Passing up opportunities for growth and advancement in your career
  • Canceling plans with friends and loved ones, isolating yourself from support
  • Distrusting moments of joy, always waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a form of self-punishment

These patterns of self-sabotage can prevent you from fully engaging in life and embracing the happiness you truly deserve. When you constantly undermine your own joy, you rob yourself of the chance to experience the richness and fulfillment that life has to offer.

How to Own Your Happiness

Reclaiming your right to happiness is a journey that requires self-reflection, commitment, and the willingness to challenge deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior. Here are some practical steps you can take to cultivate a more positive self-image and embrace the joy and contentment you deserve:

1. Cultivate Self-Awareness

The first step in owning your happiness is developing a deep understanding of yourself and your internal experiences. Self-awareness involves paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors without judgment or criticism. It’s about being honest with yourself and recognizing the patterns and beliefs that may be holding you back from embracing joy.

One powerful way to cultivate self-awareness is through mindfulness practices such as meditation or journaling. Take time each day to sit quietly and observe your thoughts and feelings as they arise. Notice any recurring themes or negative self-talk undermining your sense of worth.

As you become more attuned to your inner world, you can start to identify the triggers and situations that tend to evoke feelings of unworthiness. This awareness can help you develop more effective coping strategies and make conscious choices that align with your values and goals.

Remember, self-awareness is not about perfection or fixing yourself. It’s about developing a deeper understanding and acceptance of who you are, flaws and all. By approaching yourself with curiosity and compassion, you can unravel the layers of self-doubt and cultivate a more loving relationship with yourself.

Ultimately, self-awareness is the foundation upon which all other strategies for owning your happiness are built.

woman with arms around her head

2. Say Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are a powerful tool for rewiring your brain‘s default thought patterns. When you struggle with low self-esteem, self-criticism and doubt often dominate your inner monologue. You can gradually transform your self-perception by consciously replacing those negative thoughts with uplifting statements.

At first, reciting affirmations might feel awkward or even insincere. Even if it initially sounds strange when you’re talking to yourself, push through that discomfort. Start by affirming minor, easily believable aspects of yourself, like your unique qualities or accomplishments. For example, “I have a great sense of humor” or “I am dedicated to my goals.”

As you grow more comfortable with the practice, challenge yourself to affirm your inherent worthiness and right to joy. Statements like, “I am deserving of love and respect” or “I am capable of creating a fulfilling life” may initially feel challenging, but with repetition, they’ll begin to ring true.

Consistency is key when it comes to affirmations. Make it a daily habit to recite your chosen phrases, whether first thing in the morning, during a midday break, or before bed. You can say them aloud, write them down, or repeat them mentally. The more you engage with your affirmations, the more deeply they’ll become ingrained in your psyche.

Countless resources are available online and in self-help books if you need inspiration. Look for affirmations that resonate with you and align with the qualities you want to embody. Embrace self-love affirmations to motivate you. Remember, the goal is not to achieve perfection but to cultivate a more compassionate and encouraging inner voice.

man smiling in front of blue wall

3. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a fundamental pillar of happiness. When caught in a cycle of feeling undeserving, it’s easy to fixate on what you lack or perceive as inadequate. Deliberately shifting your attention to the positive aspects of your life can help counterbalance those distorted perceptions.

Start by establishing a daily habit of gratitude. Each day, take a few minutes to reflect on the positive things in your life, no matter how small. It could be a heartfelt conversation with a friend, a delicious meal, or a moment of peace in nature. Write your reasons for being happy in a journal, or use the Do Happy App to record your thankful thoughts.

As you make gratitude a regular habit, consider setting aside dedicated time each week for a more in-depth reflection. Take a few minutes every Thankful Thursday, for instance, to review your gratitude journal and contemplate the blessings in your life. Savor the positive emotions that arise as you acknowledge the good.

Over time, you’ll likely notice a shift in your overall perspective. Instead of dwelling on scarcity or self-doubt, your mind will become more attuned to recognizing and appreciating the abundance surrounding you. By focusing on the specific people, moments, and things that bring you joy, you’ll retrain your mind to see yourself as someone who deserves happiness.

man with arms up at sunset

4. Spend Time With Uplifting People

The people you surround yourself with can profoundly impact your emotional well-being and sense of self-worth. When you’re struggling with feeling undeserving of happiness, spending time with individuals who uplift and support you is especially important.

Take a moment to reflect on the relationships in your life. Who are the people who consistently make you feel seen, appreciated, and encouraged? These friends and loved ones will play a key role in helping you internalize your deserving happiness.

Once you’ve identified your positive influences, make a conscious effort to keep in touch. Schedule regular get-togethers, such as a weekly coffee date, a monthly hike, or a quarterly mini-vacation. Engage in fun activities you both enjoy to foster a sense of connection.

During your time together, open up about your journey toward self-acceptance and claiming your right to happiness. Seek support by sharing your struggles and progress with those you trust. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and receptive to their encouragement and guidance.

Look for opportunities to laugh together, engage in meaningful conversations, and create shared experiences that become happy memories you can reflect on. Surrounding yourself with uplifting people will help counteract negative self-talk and reinforce the belief that you are worthy of love, joy, and fulfillment.

Remember, cultivating a supportive social circle is an ongoing process. Some relationships may naturally fade as you grow and change while new ones blossom. Trust your instincts and continually nurture the connections that make you feel seen, celebrated, and deserving of happiness.

two women hugging on a beach

5. Prioritize Self-Care

When you’re struggling with feelings of unworthiness, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and put everyone else’s priorities ahead of yours. However, this pattern only reinforces the belief that you don’t deserve care and attention.

To break free from this cycle, incorporate self-care practices that nurture your mind, emotions, and physical health.

Permit yourself to rest, to say no to obligations that drain you, and to do things that make you happy. Challenge the notion that self-care is selfish by reminding yourself that taking care of your own needs enables you to show up more fully for others.

Treat yourself with the same kindness, compassion, and generosity you would extend to a beloved friend or family member. If you wouldn’t hesitate to encourage a loved one to prioritize their well-being, extend that same care and consideration to yourself.

Remember, self-care is about more than just bubble baths and face masks. It’s about making choices that align with your values, boundaries, and long-term well-being. It’s about nourishing your body with healthy food, moving in ways that feel good, and getting enough sleep. It’s about surrounding yourself with people and environments that uplift and support you.

As you make self-care a regular practice, you’ll start to internalize the message that you are worthy of love, care, and attention. You’ll begin to see yourself as someone who deserves to have their needs met and their happiness prioritized. Over time, this shift in self-perception can be transformative, enabling you to fully embrace your inherent worthiness.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

When you speak harshly to yourself, believing that you deserve joy and fulfillment is difficult. That’s why learning to extend kindness and understanding to yourself is crucial.

Start by paying attention to your inner dialogue. Notice when your inner critic pipes up with self-blame, criticism, or negative self-talk. Instead of automatically believing these thoughts, pause and question them objectively. Ask yourself, “Would I speak this way to someone I love?”

The answer is, more often than not, a resounding no. We tend to be far more compassionate and forgiving with others than ourselves. The next step is to intentionally reframe your self-talk with the same encouragement and understanding you would offer a dear friend.

For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I’m so stupid for making that mistake,” stop and modify your thoughts. Remind yourself, “Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. I’m learning and growing, and that’s what matters.” If you’re facing a challenge and your inner critic says, “You’re not good enough to handle this,” counter it with, “I am capable and resourceful. I will find a way through this.”

With practice, self-kindness will start to feel more natural. You’ll begin to default to self-compassion rather than self-criticism. This shift is essential because when you speak kindly to yourself and treat yourself with love and understanding, you reinforce the belief that you are inherently worthy of happiness.

Remember, being kind to yourself doesn’t mean you’re letting yourself off the hook or ignoring areas for growth. It simply means you’re choosing to approach your imperfections and challenges with gentleness and grace. It means you’re on your own side, cheering yourself on and believing in your ability to learn, heal, and thrive.

Ultimately, self-compassion is about extending to yourself the same love, acceptance, and forgiveness you so readily offer others. It’s about recognizing that you are human, with all the flaws and complexities that entails, and loving yourself anyway.

When you make self-kindness a daily practice, you open the door to true, lasting happiness—the kind that comes from knowing you are worthy, just as you are.

7. See a Mental Health Professional

Sometimes, your thoughts and feelings can be too overwhelming to resolve on your own. If you’re struggling with pervasive low self-worth or depression, it’s crucial to seek professional help.

A therapist can provide guidance and coping strategies to help transform your relationship with yourself and your past experiences. They can help you uncover the roots of your feelings and develop practical tools for healing and growth.

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Everyone deserves support in their journey toward wholeness and happiness. By taking this step, you’re sending a clear message to yourself that you matter and you deserve to heal, grow, and thrive.

two women talking

Final Thoughts

Believing you don’t deserve happiness is a harmful misconception that you have the power to change.

You are inherently worthy of a fulfilling, good life rich with joy and meaning. By practicing self-compassion, challenging negative thoughts, and surrounding yourself with positivity, you can begin to embrace your deservingness.

Change takes time, but owning your happiness is possible and worth the effort!


For more articles on taking control of your life and owning your happiness, visit the a little dose of happy blog.