Do you believe you need to work hard, be successful and achieve to feel accepted and appreciated? Are you afraid of failure and worry about how you’re perceived? Like the proverbial social chameleon, do you adapt your life, beliefs and opinions to meet the expectations of others for fear of rejection and humiliation?
If you spend your life trying to adapt yourself to meet other people’s expectations so you can receive approval and acceptance, you may need a gentle reminder of your true value.
Instead of living other people’s dreams at the expense of your own, it’s time you were true to yourself, proud of who you are and what you think, feel and believe, so you can find real happiness.
Comparisons are not helpful
Simple fact. There will always be someone cleverer, more beautiful, talented, or stronger than you. However, it’s worth remembering too that the reverse is also true. There will always be people who are less brilliant than you are in all these areas too. So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on fulfilling your own dreams, desires and potential to the best of your ability.
As with so many of our other personality traits, the need for external validation will be rooted in childhood. I’m not trying to place blame for all our dysfunctions on our parents. However good or bad they may have been, they did the best they could with what they had available. In this case, you may have grown up receiving love, attention and acceptance only when you were performing or meeting your parents’ expectations. Even if their intentions were of encouragement and guidance (it’s tough being a parent), it can leave you feeling hollow and not seen for who you are. Praise only for high achievement will leave you believing that if you are only valued when you’re achieving. And somewhere along the way, the fear that if you are not successful and achieve something worthwhile in life, you will be worthless and disappear.
Do you know who you are?
Most people fear opening up and revealing their core self; what I call the essence of who you really are. You believe that part of you is somehow flawed and better off hidden, so you create layers of defence and hide behind the achievements. Unfortunately, all the accomplishments, successes and accolades are never enough to quench the thirst for approval and acceptance.
Because you were not allowed to express your free-child, ie. be who you really are and show your authentic qualities, you perform to feel accepted.
Embrace your true self
Everyone has a need to feel accepted, encouraged and valued for who they are. Look at your life and explore these basic relational needs. How were they met when you were growing up? How are they met now? What’s missing? What needs to change?
Be honest with yourself and others about your genuine feelings and needs. Notice if you’re adapting or performing to fit in. If you see that you are, pause, take a break and do a breathing meditation – the App Headspace is good for this. Then try to connect with someone you care about on a genuine level with no performance, one small step at a time.
Be yourself – everyone else is taken
“Don’t change so people will like you; be yourself and the right people will love you.” Unknown
I often see this in couples, where it usually creates a parent-child dynamic. With the partner in the parent role growing increasingly frustrated. I have also come across people who reach a crossroads in their life and realise they’ve been playing the chameleon all their lives. They become despondent, disheartened and at a loss as they don’t know who they really are.
This is the first and biggest step they can take, because it brings self-awareness. From here you can begin to work at exploring the core of who you are, with all your wonderful qualities.
If you recognise some of these traits and want to explore it further, give me a call on 0121 745 9044 to book an appointment.