Let’s talk about validation – when others recognize and accept us for who we are. When we don’t feel validation, we sometimes behave in unproductive ways in search of recognition. Those negative behaviours often perpetuate our negative self image.
How did we get to that state – that as adults, we feel inadequate, unworthy,
insecure, not good enough and I’m sure the list of negative feelings goes on and on.
Based on my research and personal experiences, this is what I have discovered:
- It starts in childhood
- Every child is deserving of unconditional love – it is not something to be earned
- Parents may inadvertently not give their children the unconditional love they need to grow and thrive into high functioning adults
- Parents may not know what they are doing when it comes to raising their children – unaware of the impact of their behavior on their child’s development.
- Parents may repeat destructive patterns of their own parents who were their role models
- They may try to control their kids behavior to suit their own unmet needs
- Some examples of what parents say are: “Don’t think that”. “Don’t do that – what would the neighbours say?”, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “I can’t believe you are saying that”, “Don’t cry – you will hurt my feelings”.
- Parents can fail to see the world through their children’s eyes
- Parents might yell at their children, tell them they are stupid or losers
- Parents might have had unreasonable punishment for their kids when they made a mistake
- This causes children to think something is wrong with them and likely to abandon their own thoughts to win the approval of their parents.
Impact of not receiving unconditional love as a child
- Children form their own interpretation and understanding of why their parents are upset or responding to them in a way that the child’s needs aren’t met
- Children may believe they have done something wrong
- This is how they form beliefs about them selves (I am bad, II am not worthy, I am not lovable, I am stupid, I am a loser)
- These are juvenile interpretations (based on the child’s age and cognitive level)
- Children become creative and do ‘workarounds’ to survive and to feel good about themselves
- These are learned behaviours – For example – they may believe: to get love – I need to do well in school, or be quiet and stay out of sight, or help other people
- These behaviours bring the child the attention they so desperately seek
- Behaviour may not always be positive – they may be acting out negatively
- I consider these to be survival strategies that we use as kids to gain attention
- We continue to use these strategies to get our needs met throughout our lives
- Eventually, as adults, these strategies are likely to become burdens as they no longer serve us
- They will inevitably show up in our adult life and can lead to problems in our relationships
- The truth is – we are lovable just because we exist – there is nothing we should have to do to be worthy of love
Next week’s blog shows us the importance of validation in our relationships.