One of my greatest insecurities is the need for validation. Over the years I have found ways to combat my inner worth and provide myself with the affirmations necessary to keep me from shutting down, but there was a time that it was utterly debilitating.
Crippling to the point that if I had a moment where I felt someone was mad or disappointed in me, I would shut down and go into a depressive sleep coma for days. The only thing that could pull me out of that slump was validation from another human being.
This rather unhealthy and vicious pattern led me down a road filled with bad choices and bad people, but with ample amounts of validation. The road I was on wasn’t a road at all, it was a hamster wheel and the faster I ran, the further I dug myself into the ground.
What I thought was manic depressive or bipolar cycles was really an entire lack of self-worth. The term self-worth gets used a lot, but what does it really mean?
By definition - self-worth is the opinion you have about yourself and the value you place on yourself because of that opinion. While that is a great explanation, it only scratches the surface. A person’s opinion is more than just a thought, it is a deep-rooted belief used in determining the worth of something. For example, in my opinion, tea is better than coffee, and I am without a doubt more likely to purchase a cup of tea before a cup of coffee. Therefore, in my opinion, tea is more valuable than coffee. That same example can be used across hundreds of different scenarios, but the one that matters right now is the narrative around the opinion of ourselves.
I spent over half of my life holding a very poor and awful opinion of myself, and I relied on the words of others to lift me from the trenches. The first problem with that way of living; I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, second; validation became a drug I constantly needed, and third; I was depending on someone else’s energy and abilities to save me from drowning in my own misery, literally.
The value I placed on myself was nothing. I had a choice, increase my value through methods like, meditation, prayer, mindfulness and therapy... or seek alternative methods. Since the first method was outside of my understanding, I chose the easy alternative methods. Methods including; alcohol, drugs, disordered eating, abusing my body and having no remorse for my actions. Those first methods weren’t just outside of my understanding, they were outside of my perceived worth. I believed it was foolish to waste good resources on someone like me. My thoughts became my truths and soon I was surrounded by people who thought like me. It didn’t take long before I was shaming anyone practicing positive self-care, my jealousy sparked anger instead of aspirations and the shame fueled the flames of my out of control life.
There were moments I would feel okay about myself, but it was usually on the heels of someone saying something to lift me up, and if I couldn’t follow that with something else, the high would dissipate. I began to believe that if people weren’t always complimenting me, then they hated me. There is a deep desire in our hearts to be liked, to be connected, to be filled and to fill others. It is the driving force behind so much of what we do and who we are.
I spent most of my twenties discovering and uncovering truths about myself, but despite all the growth, I was still not able to separate fact from reality. I lived with the mindset that if I was damaged once, I would be damaged forever. It took the final years of my twenties and the first few years of my thirties to learn to separate facts from reality.
Facts are things that are true, but reality is how things exist.
I have a lot of truths, we all do. But just because something is, or was true about us does not mean that those things are true today, or will be true tomorrow.
The only truth that matters is our decision to choose where the line between facts and reality begins and ends.
I spent so much of my time putting myself down, relying on others to lift me up, only to repeat that same scenario. Crisis was the only way I knew how to connect with others... until it wasn’t.
Much like an addict needing rehabilitation, I needed help, help I could not provide myself. All I knew was that I was done living in crisis, I was tired, I was exhausted and I was ready to create some new truths.
And I did, and so can you.
I would be lying if I said it was easy because it wasn’t. Many therapists, in-patient and out-patient stays and a handful of psychiatrists later - I am closing up wounds and creating new truths every single day.
We don’t have to know what the tools are, or master the skills needed to get started, but we must be ready to accept help from those who do, and we must be willing to challenge what isn’t growing us.
You are the author of your own story, make it one you want to run to instead of escape from.