After you’ve been online for a while, you’ve heard all about ‘limiting beliefs’ and ‘what are your fears’ and ‘is it the thought of success or failure holding you back’.
I collect old books, and I’m currently reading The Keeper Of The Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter, written about 1925.
In a nutshell (partial spoiler alert), it’s the story of a soldier (Jamie) who returns home from WW1 seriously wounded, and cast adrift as both his parents died while he was away and their life sold up without his knowledge. Halfway through the book, he inherits a small piece of land from a benefactor he barely got to know… co-inherits actually as half the parcel goes to a child who was ‘partner’ to the elderly benefactor.
Jamie is stunned by the generosity and very reluctant to accept it. “Why, I haven’t done anything to earn it,” said Jamie. “All I’ve done here is a drop in the bucket compared with the value of an acre of land down that slope, planted as it is, peopled with the bees. […] It’s too easy! It’s a fairytale! It’s a dream! Things don’t happen that way in real life.”
His co-inheritor, the child, responds with the simplicity and honesty and insight that possibly only a child could have: “Look here! Maybe you think the bandages you’re wearing don’t show through the shirt on your back; but when you stoop over they do. You’re pretty game about it and you don’t bellyache, but of course you wouldn’t be all harnessed up like that if you didn’t have to be. And that means that wrong things and things that hurt you and hit you awful hard came your way, and it was for all of us, for ‘Our country ‘tis of thee’. But you bucked up and you stood your hurts, and you didn’t complain, and you pulled through ‘em. And you just know, all by yourself, that ugly things, and mean things, and maybe things you didn’t deserve at all happened to you. Now, why ain’t that just the same as if something that was wonderful and lovely happened to you? Why couldn’t a beautiful thing happen to you just as well a bad thing? Why couldn’t gettin’ an acre of land with beehives and flowers happen to you just as well as gettin’ a rip-snorter that nearly tore your heart out? Laugh that off, will you?”
I read this passage several times when I came to it. It is so true. When life throws us a curve ball, most people roll with it, accept it as “life”. Yet when the big win (or the potential of it) happens, we question it, doubt our suitability or our worthiness.
Why is that?
This going to be a really short article as I have theories galore, I can Psychology 101 all over the question, but I’m more interested in whether you identify with these concepts… have you witnessed this “I haven’t done anything to earn it” in yourself or others? “I haven’t done anything to earn it” when it’s a windfall but never asking the same question when the storm hits.