(Originally posted July 22, 2018)
For much of my life I incessantly sought external validation and feedback from others. I felt incomplete and unsteady without it; be it a friend or partner, I was always seeking confirmation that I was ok and accepted. I don’t recall consciously thinking this, but upon reflection, I must have thought for quite some time that a major goal of my life was to ensure everyone liked me, or at least didn’t dislike me, since any inkling of that had me distraught. I think I often defaulted to the expectation that people didn’t like me. If I felt I was not fully accepted, I wondered with my whole being: What’s wrong with me that they don’t like me!?
Along this journey – thanks to numerous conversations over many years with wise friends, therapists, and energy healers, through books and courses, etc. – I have realized that this need for feedback had its roots in not feeling grounded in who I am, and lacking a solid self-acceptance, a knowing that I’m lovely and unique just as I am. I don’t need others to validate this, or even like me, in order for me to be ok. However, no matter how many people tell you that – e.g. “You’re wonderful just as you are!” or “Just be yourself, they’ll love you!” – or how many times you read it, it can take a long time for it to resonate and sink in; we usually have to come around to a realization such as this on our own.
In general, we are all seeking to feel accepted and part of a community, which includes at least in part, some validation from others to indicate that we are, indeed, accepted. But take that a bit too far, and you find a fine line across which we cannot see the positive aspects of ourselves, our great features and fortés – without them being reflected back at us through the eyes of another giving us positive feedback. This is really just our hungry ego we’re feeding by not trusting ourselves. We’re offering the ego the fast-food feedback from another person to give it a boost, rather than the whole-grain, organic food required to create healthy self-acceptance within oneself.
Deep down we may feel threatened about others’ successes because we see them relative to ourselves in a world of competition. We see ourselves as somehow inferior if someone else is succeeding, instead of genuinely cheering on their successes. While separate from each other in one sense, we are also all connected: our joy for, or contempt or fear of, others and their success rebounds back to us. Think of how good it feels to give someone something – a kind word, a compliment, a gift – that causes them to smile; you know they are happy about it. How lovely it feels to give. Compare that feeling to the fear-based, closed-off feeling of concern that someone else is “gaining on us” in a certain area of life. Competition and retraction vs. Openness and joy for another.
Knowing that we are spiritual beings having a human experience can help us peel back the protective layers built up around us over years and experiences (our ego) to allow us to see through the other person’s ego as well – into their true spirit, and to connect on that level. If someone rejects you, or judges you – it isn’t their spirit rejecting you, it’s simply their ego holding you at arm’s length based on their previous experiences and fears.
One other key notion that took me what feels like forever to really accept (given my major life goal, see the first paragraph), is that not everyone is going to like everyone else in this experience – and that is perfectly ok, too.
Recognize your own worth, look back on all that you’ve been through, all that you’ve learned. Bit by bit, begin to acknowledge and love your awesomeness and uniqueness, independent of anyone else’s validation. Just know it – because it’s true. And cheer on the successes of others and give others support, and feel that love and support rebound back to you.