Self-Validation

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Validate yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try not to judge yourself. Have self-compassion. Look after yourself. Yada yada yada. 

But after a life time’s worth of hating myself, beating myself up over the tiniest wrongdoings, harming myself in endless ways, being convinced that I’m inherently “bad” or “flawed” or “broken”… validating myself does not come easily at all. 

My therapist is trying to convince me that if I can change the relationship I have with myself from judgmental and punitive and hateful, to loving and patient and compassionate, then maybe some of the suffering I experience will lessen. She said it won’t necessarily take the pain away; but it will change how I relate to it, and stop it from cascading into the unrelenting and unendurable alternative. No matter what the cause of the pain in that moment, it’s the judging and the self berating that compounds it.

It’s almost like I had to invalidate my experiences to survive them, as a child, to force myself to soldier on and disconnect from my feelings. And now I’m being told that this same way of relating to myself is what is keeping me trapped. Invalidating myself and hating myself has been all I have ever known. My brain is wired to think of myself in a certain way, and reversing two decades worth of this apparently dysfunctional habit is chronically exhausting!

Especially when it isn’t just related to cognition, because the self-hatred is felt on such a core visceral level, beating this is remarkably challenging. But I’m working on it. Faking it to make it. Saying self validating words in my head to try rewire those ingrained pathways… One validating statement and cheerleading statement at a time. But fuck it’s hard, especially when I don’t believe any of it. Not yet anyway.

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10 thoughts on “Self-Validation

  1. This is a great post…I too really struggled with this whole validation and self-compassion thing but now I’ve completed my DBT the compassionate things that initially felt akin to *lying to myself* feel more natural, and I am able to self-validate much easier and feel better as a result 🙂 It will get easier I promise. It’s worth persisting with it x

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  2. I too need to learn to appreciate myself. It’s hard when you’ve spent your life going from loathing yourself to grandiose thinking now that the meds have taken away the grandiose thinking I’m just left with the loathing and I can’t seem to get over it

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    • It’s really difficult. We have to sort of “fake it to make it”, rewiring our brains, on an actually physiologically level… It’s really interesting actually – the science behind it. I used to hate faking it to make it but now I understand the value in it, in this context I mean. Take care x

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      • I felt like it was being really fake for a while too. Sometimes I still feel a little silly. Something that helped was finding people who do validate me in healthy ways and learning to/being able to healthily ask for validation.
        I don’t remember exactly which part of DBT that is in, but it’s something like ‘asking for what you need.’ It’s hard, but not impossible. It works. It’s very possible and it does get easier. x

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  3. I think your therapist is right. I reached my own realization only a short time ago, but one of the key points of it was the need to be kind to myself. I’ve always felt that one of my shortcomings was my inability to be loving to other people. I’ve only rarely liked others. I felt guilty for that. Then I had my big revelation. And I realized that my self-hatred was what was standing in the way. I had to give that up first. The way I gave it up is probably specific to me — I found a way to make myself feel happy that I could reliably repeat. As happiness was the most important thing to me, being able to give that to myself stopped the hatred. And with that stopped I realized that what I needed most of all was to love myself. To be kind to myself. To forgive myself for every real and perceived mistake I had made. The mistakes I had made were easily forgiven because they had all been attempts to get myself to this point. The only ones I still regretted were the ones that hurt other people and for those I resolved not to do so again, knowing it would be easier now that I no longer felt so much pain.

    I don’t know what the most important thing is for you, so I can’t help you with that. But I will reiterate — being kind to yourself is extremely important and forgiving yourself is part of it. To be kind to yourself, do things that make you happy even if they’re silly. Judge yourself less. If watching My Little Pony makes you feel good, then silence the little voice that says, “That’s only for little girls” and do it anyway. Ignore the part of you that tells you that what you want is wrong or bad or stupid.

    Perhaps start by making a list of the things that make you feel good? For me, one of those that I hadn’t expected was bright, colorful things to watch with music and positive messages. I.e., children’s musical movies like “Penguins” and “Madagascar” and the Tinker Bell movies.

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