Entitlement is the joy killer.
Halloween is hardly what it could be. Any other day of the year, hand a kid a chocolate bar and he'll be thrilled. Do it on Halloween and it's worth almost nothing.
When you receive something you feel entitled to, something expected, that you believe you've earned, it's not worth much. And when you don't receive it, you're furious. After all, it's yours. Already yours. And you didn't get it. Whether you're wearing a hobo costume or showing up as a surgeon after years of medical school, entitlement guarantees that you won't get what you need.
Worthiness, on the other hand, is an essential part of receiving anything.
When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw. It's hardly worth anything, because you decided in advance, before you got the feedback, that you weren't worthy.
It's possible to feel worthy without feeling entitled. Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory. We don't have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open or humble.
Both entitlement and unworthiness are the work of the resistance. The twin narratives make us bitter, encourage us to be ungenerous, keep us stuck. Divas are divas because they've tricked themselves into believing both narratives–that they're not getting what they're entitled to, and, perversely, that they're not worth what they're getting.
The entitled yet frightened voice says, "What's the point of contributing if those people aren't going to appreciate it sufficiently?" And the defensive unworthy voice says, "What's the point of shipping the work if I don't think I'm worthy of being paid attention to…"
The universe, it turns out, owes each of us very little indeed. Hard work and the dangerous commitment to doing something that matters doesn't get us a guaranteed wheelbarrow of prizes… but what it does do is help us understand our worth. That worth, over time, can become an obligation, the chance to do our best work and to contribute to communities we care about.
When the work is worth it, make more of it, because you can, and because you're generous enough to share it.
"I'm not worthy," isn't a useful way to respond to success. And neither is, "that's it?"
It might be better if we were just a bit better at saying, "thank you."