Continued from previous posts

An unseen lake

‘Anti intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge‘ (Isaac Asimov)

‘Too often we forget that discipline really means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioural consequences‘ (From the Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel)

Phrases like ‘you don’t deserve anything’ can carry a lot of old baggage with many implications at the personal and collective level. When spoken or enacted in religious or spiritual, familial or educational contexts early on they set templates of how we perceive ourselves and others, our place in the world, how we respond or carry ourselves and what to expect and put up with. In religious contexts the phrase often stems from the concept of the original sin, misogyny and a need for constant atonement. It can set people, and especially girls, up for a lot of suffering and big T and small t traumas. It can hinder self advocacy and confidence and lead to disempowering behaviours. There are always the recipients of words and beliefs and those who articulate and impose these on others. This dynamic in educational, employment and other social settings results in self righteous punishing and predatory behaviours and deserve over attitudes and practices.

When the belief ‘you don’t deserve anything’ is operating at a non conscious level of awareness it can impact choices and ways of being without our being aware of it. Oftentimes, it can be operating in parallel with more empowering and healthy conscious beliefs; however, the unconscious underlying beliefs tend to be more influential because they are embedded in early frozen memories and emotions. I will provide two simple examples that may resonate with many people who grew up in religious cultures. Read more….

Platitudes (Edited)

‘Interpersonal experience shapes the mind as it continues to develop throughout the lifespan….. Interactions with the environment, especially relationships with other people, directly shape the development of the brain’s structure and function’ Dr Dan Siegel

In the previous post I wrote about the phrase ‘you don’t deserve anything’. Another least favourite phrase of mine, which pops up frequently is ‘everything happens for a reason.’

So, you were diagnosed with cancer, a loved one died, a child died, got run over, robbed, bullied, raped, fired, betrayed, evicted, ended up homeless, denied civil rights? Probably, everything was in your best interest and everything happened for a reason. Bad things that have happened to you were lessons you needed from day one, a kind of boot camp you had to pass through.

When people use the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ as a response to terrible things that have happened to other people they may have good intentions.  Read more..


‘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.

Read more…………