There's only one you and at the end of your life, don't you want to say it was yours
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
I don’t believe that people can ever truly be happy, or maybe, rather contented, until they have given themselves approval. We grow up shaped by our upbringings. Actions that are reinforced by praise, or reward are known in psychology to bring about an increased likelihood of the recipient of that feedback engaging in that action(s). Actions that are punished, ignored or invalidated are likely to melt away.
When we are children, adults are the ones who “know everything”. They keep us safe. They are the big ones – they must know the truth. We accept their truth unthinkingly. This holds true whether these adults are our parents or our teachers, or another adult who has a lot of time and impact in our lives.
Of course, and this is the current opinion in psychology, we are not only products of nurture. We are also partly blank slates, born with our own innate personalities, traits and tendencies, but these are then molded by ‘the all-knowing ones’. We need to know adults know everything because as children this makes us feel safe. We are born not knowing, blank slates, waiting to be told what is right and wrong, what is to be valued and what is not valued.
In adolescence our peers begin to increasingly shape our values in lieu of our parents.
And so, eventually we arrive in our adulthood, with our own “personality” – our likes, preferences, choices, values….when we think back about what was praised, is it something we do a lot of? Is this where we base our values? I remember mum used to say with pride “she reads a lot” to other adults (not to me, but I overheard). These days, I find myself feeling good about myself for reading a book.
I’ve been praised (heard mum tell other adults) for academic merit, so of course, achievement at an institution like a university was important to me – particularly doing well was important to mum, and thus, important to me.
In high school I was told that I was not likeable because I was “too quiet”. This is still painful for me, though I purposely don’t think about it. I began to talk a lot, and these days find myself questioning my likeability when I become my introverted self I believe I was born with. I am proud to say that I was with a dear friend today, one of those rare unconditional people. She also is a fairly quiet person, and I felt no need to talk. I have been fortunate enough to meet other quiet people. They don’t expect constant chatter and I feel more at home around them.
If I get sick of reading, I put my book down.
I remember an adult laughing at the pictures I used to draw. I don’t draw today..and yes, I do have little talent there, but these days, the self-awareness about what has shaped my values and my behaviour direct me to try to ‘try different things’ …things that weren’t shaped, perhaps not praised, maybe even punished, but feel intuitively right to me.
For we live but once, and I don’t know about others, but I carry into adulthood a childhood desperation for my mother’s approval which seems to dominate my actions…but long term…I will not approve of myself if I don’t live for me.
When you find yourself in 'the zone', doing what you love, by yourself, with no 'inner voice' from the past haunting you, you're on the right track for living for you!
Oh hi Heshm...you poor thing. What a pressure to feel that you shouldn't have to. I can relate, kind of to the same thing, but the opposite thing at the same time..I know that whoever I picked 'would not be good enough' probably... but, as long as you feel 'safe', please keep following your heart...do you have a close friend/relative you can talk to...I've only done half a psychology degree so I am not fully qualified...Take care...and still look after you in as many ways as you can ....:)
Again, I am sorry that you feel that pressure upon yourself. It's awful to feel you don't have control over your life. Keep reminding yourself that the feelings you are having are perfectly okay, and, as you feel safe, begin to take the road best for you..It can take awhile, in reality, for this to happen, because of people's expectations, which are, in reality, I know, hard to totally ignore. Please keep reminding yourself, most of all that you are a worthwhile person, and keep doing things to take care of yourself. Jussie