Posted by fxckfeelings on October 6, 2015Share This Post
One of the greatest paradoxes of the human mind is that the people who hate themselves the most seek the most adoration from everyone around them (see: comedians, musicians, popularity-obsessed teenaged girls, etc.). Unfortunately, the most common self-treatments—addiction, exile, and/or rhinoplasty—are only slightly less successful than actual therapy, even when you know where your feelings come from and are well motivated to change them. Fortunately, however, no matter how much self-hate you feel or validation you seek, you can prevent those needy feelings from controlling your life, even if you can’t get rid of them.
I guess I would put my problem in the category of a self-un-acceptance— I don’t like that I’m constantly trying to make people like me. I would say that I am very quick to see and try to work on my flaws. I actively try to talk less and listen to others more, engage and be interested in those around me, support and understand others, make others laugh, smile more… I am a bit of a validation junky. I admit that my actions are sort of selfish in that I love to feel accepted by others, yet I never actually do feel that way. I’ve had many friends who basically say what others think is completely irrelevant, but I disagree— If everyone around you thinks you’re an asshole and has no interest in being near you, then that seems totally relevant and a good clue that you may need to do some self reflection/improvement. My concern, however, is that I take this to the extreme, and now I almost don’t want to be in social settings or meet new people for fear that they will be so annoyed by my mere existence. Is this a rational concern I should keep listening to, or should I wait to be worried about how bad I suck when someone says something? My goal is to figure out if I should I say f*ck the haters and embrace my neurosis, or vice versa.
When you identify yourself as someone who deserves rejection, just because you always feel rejectable, you give your feelings a power of judgment they don’t deserve. The haters aren’t your problem, your hateful thoughts are.
By your own account, your friends don’t reject you or tell you that you’re a jerk; that’s just your inner-hater talking. So it seems grossly unfair and unrealistic for you to judge yourself according to those feelings, just because they’re strong and persistent, when you haven’t carefully considered your self-criticism and consulted your inner-friend first.
Instead of pursuing validation like it’s a drug, draw up your own list of personal values and important qualities and decide whether your behavior is good enough to meet them. Include values like independence, being a good friend, doing your share, and working hard. Ignoring your feelings and focusing solely on your behavior, judge yourself as you would a friend, which means your standard is good enough, not perfect.
If you fall short, then there’s some behavior you need to improve, and you’re motivated enough to figure out a plan to manage bad habits and create better ones. Otherwise, stand by your self-evaluation and ask yourself whether, as you say, you’re just a “validation junky” who always needs to be reassured by others, even when you know you’ve done nothing wrong.
If that’s the case, the good news is that you don’t need to change your behavior in order to value yourself. The bad news is that you have an addictive need that won’t go away, so you’re going to have to get used to living with it while not letting it control you. That means learning to talk back to that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, or maybe even ignoring it entirely.
Yes, treatment may sometimes reduce your need for validation, including both psychotherapy and medication, but often it doesn’t, so don’t commit yourself to endless treatment of any kind. Try whatever intervention you think will help, but be prepared to accept the possibility that validation-cravings, wherever they came from, are just part of your make-up.
Your goal, in that case, is not to let them control you. In addition to judging yourself by your behavior, don’t let yourself seek approval or self-improvement unless you think it’s really necessary. Try to develop deeper relationships with people who accept you, so that you don’t have to be ingratiating. Act like a person who values herself and expects to be accepted by friends, even if your feelings tell you otherwise, and when the inner-hater tells you you’re the worst, stand by your personal assessment and disagree.
There’s a reason nobody has to remind you to face feelings; facts seem less urgent, but they’re also less subjective. Knowing you meet your own standards is all the validation you need.
“I can’t stop craving validation, but that won’t stop me from validating myself and acting accordingly with friends.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname