‘The last few years had been rough. Didn’t I deserve a break? Even though words like deserve really aren’t part of my psychological makeup, still I wonder if there was a little bit of reverse hubris. A feeling that now—now things would be easier……..’ (Dani Shapiro, Devotion, 2010)

Words and phrases take on different meanings and they serve different purposes in different contexts. They are imbued with emotions, attitudes and beliefs and can even carry subtle instructions. They are cues from our past. They become part of the available social discourse and they have the power to heal, emancipate, harm, manipulate and throw into doubt. They can  oppress, instigate change or not.

Over the last few years there are certain words and phrases that re-occur in some of the material I read or listen to. One such short phrase is ‘you don’t deserve anything’. The meaning changes depending on who is using the phrase and the context.

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