How We Deny Ourselves In Order To Receive Love
Validation, love, and integrity are words that have a certain force about them. Hearing these three words can make us recoil or expand, depending on what we have experienced in our lives. I have gone on an inner exploration of these words since the Spring of 2020, ever since the pandemic hit the United States. I ended a four-year relationship soon after my city was called into quarantine. I couldn’t say why, for sure, but I just knew deep within my bones that I was not living in Truth. What I discovered is how validation, love, and integrity have impacted my entire life. I compromised my integrity to receive love and validation in many different ways and in my romantic relationships. I grew up in a chaotic and angry household of five girls and two parents. My father was authoritarian, and my mother was submissive. Neither parent knew how to nourish, love, and validate their children because they never received these qualities from their own parents. Both my mother and father grew up in similar households where they had dominating fathers and acquiescent mothers.
When these nurturing aspects are not shown to us as children, we begin the search of our lives looking for them from other people. We usually attract someone in a romantic way that happens to be on the same search. Sometimes we are so desperate to receive this love and acceptance that we ignore red flags, compromise our integrity, and lose our voice. We choose to look the other way when unhealthy behaviors are happening right before our very eyes. An internal negotiation takes place. We exchange our morals and beliefs for safety, security, and validation.
These patterns of bargaining play out in many different aspects of our lives and create damage and havoc. They affect society as a whole on many levels.
SEE ALSO: How To Connect With Your Higher Self
We project our need for validation onto our spouses and partners
I found myself in a relationship where I did not speak up about my needs, nor did he. We both found ourselves ultimately projecting onto the other what we did not receive from our parents as children-validation and nurturing. Because we were so busy taking care of each other’s needs, seeking approval that we were doing enough for each other, we found ourselves in a draining situation where we each had repressed our own needs. Repression is a side effect of needing validation. My need to be loved and accepted was greater than my need to speak up, and so I didn’t. I found the more I tried to stuff down what I really needed from that relationship, the more exhausted I became because I was trying to contain strong emotions built up inside of me. Needless to say, that relationship did not last.
We seek validation by giving to others
I have a friend who would often announce how lovable she was and how much people wanted to be her friend. It was actually true. I did witness the intensity of people who were drawn to her. But I also noticed she would go above and beyond for almost anyone to the point where she neglected her own well-being. Her need to be needed was her way of receiving validation. She felt loved by the people who needed her and received words of affirmation from acquaintances she would go out of her way for. While she did enjoy helping others, and it made her feel good to help people, it also caused her a lot of stress and anxiety on the inside. She had difficulty saying no to others, and she would choose unhealthy coping mechanisms, like alcohol and drugs, to manage her anxiousness.
Compromising our integrity to be accepted
We see this happen in children and teens. It’s called peer pressure. If children do not have a strong foundation of love and acceptance from their parents, they will seek it in their peers. They will make poor choices even if they know right from wrong. They will decide to go along with the crowd because if they don’t, the feeling of rejection is too great. This was me as a young child and teen. In my early elementary days, I did not have many friends. I was painfully shy, so I was labeled stuck-up. As I grew older, the popular crowd of girls began to take more notice of me. They invited me into their group, but not without payment. I had to become one of them. I took on personality traits of feeling like I was above others. In high school, I became a bully. I went against my natural instincts of feeling empathy and compassion for others so that I could feel respected by creating fear. A trait I picked up from my father.
I also made poor choices in the arena of drugs and alcohol. I chose to follow the crowd instead of finding a new crowd. I was a lost soul in my teen years, searching for love and acceptance anywhere I could find it.
Climbing the ladder of success to feel good about ourselves
Society tells us the top is the best. If you get to the top in your career, you will be respected, valued, and, most of all, validated. You will receive the stamp of approval from society itself. As I blossomed in my medical field career, I experienced a newfound feeling of confidence. This confidence gave me validation that I was good at something, so why not become the best? I kept taking on more and more work, free of charge. The more roles I could play in my field, the better my self-worth. “She’s the best. Ask her; she will know the answer. I want her to take care of my patients.” These were all words that made me feel good. They made me feel wanted. They filled the holes of my worthlessness I had carried around from my childhood. As I made my way to the top, I became resentful of my boss and co-workers. I became weary from being pulled in many different directions, yet the validation I received felt too good to give up.
Again, I fell into suppression and did not speak up about my needs. After fourteen years, I had an opportunity to leave, and I took it. Looking back, I had created my own prison. I willingly took on extra roles because I was seeking approval and respect. What I ended up with was a whole lot of stress and resentment.
Needing validation creates indecisiveness
Indecisiveness usually comes from a place of fear. It’s a fear of asking for what we need, and we are generally afraid to ask for what we need because we fear the repercussions, which include rejection and some form of punishment. The punishment may be getting the silent treatment or having something taken away from us. I have been labeled wishy-washy for most of my adult life. I was always afraid of making final decisions even though deep down, I knew what I wanted. I also knew that sometimes those final decisions would impact others in my life and I would have much rather accommodated other people’s feelings than my own. I was afraid love would be taken away from me, or I wouldn’t be liked, or, worse, I would be rejected. So I stayed in a place of uncertainty. My indecisiveness created tension, frustration, and anger for myself and for others.
The truth is, all of us, in some way, seek approval outside of ourselves. We look for it from our peers, our boss, our partners, and our families. This is a learned behavior. We inherit it from the adults who raised us, and we carry it on because society tells us this is normal. The most significant result of seeking validation is the suppression we encounter with it. We don’t follow our intuition, dreams, or even our own happiness because we are desperate to be accepted into society. How do you know if you’re seeking validation? Here are some questions you can ask yourself. I always encourage journaling about these questions or taking some time for deep contemplation.
- Do you feel like you can be an authentic version of yourself when presented with new situations? (Without the help of any substances to help you relax)
- Are you the same person at work or school as you are at home?
- Do you find yourself in situations where you feel you cannot say no?
- Have you ever went along with a situation that didn’t feel right because you were too afraid you might not be liked if you said no?
- If you are upset by a situation, do you look to your spouse to agree with your side? And if they don’t, does that upset you further?
- Do you find yourself exhausted by certain people or situations? (If the answer is yes, it’s likely you are repressing yourself)
Start by observing how you feel in your day-to-day life. Take note of how specific people or places in your life make you feel. Jot down notes at the end of the day. More than likely, you will be surprised by what you find. The need for validation can be subtle. The most significant way to change your behavior is by observing how you feel. When you begin to dig deep and change your behavior, an incredible amount of energy will be lifted and available.
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