Seeking attention, approval, validation; wanting to be noticed, praised and rewarded: these are all symptoms of a common disease called low self-esteem. Even I struggled with it for a long time, in fact, this was my main emotional pattern, of which I spoke about in another episode. This video will be very personal, but I share it nonetheless, because I feel that many of you can relate to it.
Most often, the roots of low self-esteem can be traced back to a dysfunctional family, just like in my case. My parents divorced when I was just five years old, and they never had a harmonious relationship. Even when my father was there for me physically, he was absent emotionally. I felt abandoned, neglected and misunderstood.
A child craves love, attention and approval, and I didn’t get this from my father. I simply wanted him to notice my values, to appreciate my talents, to validate my worth. Unlike my brother who rebelled against him, I played the role of the good boy. But no matter how hard I tried, it seemed that nothing was enough, that I was not enough. He never once told me that he’s proud of me.
He used a one-sided and highly dysfunctional upbringing strategy. Whenever I did something well, for him that was normal and natural, so he never ever praised me for anything. But when I committed even the slightest mistake, he was quick to criticize me and punish my behavior. Looking back, it’s not surprising that in the face of these unrealistic expectations, I never felt that I was enough.
During my first spiritual awakening, I realized that I was living his life instead of mine. He wanted to make his failed dreams come true through me, and he never really cared about what I wanted to do. That was the moment I stopped trying to please him, because I recognized this subtle abuse and that I would never succeed anyway. From that moment on, I started to live my own life, and started my journey on the path of self-discovery.
But it didn’t mean that I suddenly solved my low self-esteem problem, as well. Although I stopped trying to be in my father’s good graces, I still needed the attention and the approval that I didn’t get from him. Soon enough, I turned to the members of the opposite sex to seek validation from them. Every weekend I would go out with the main motivation of meeting girls.
If I could hook up with one, I felt as a success, but when I couldn’t get anyone to become interested in me, I degraded myself as a failure. My whole self-worth hanged on the attention that others gave me. When I was in a crowd of people, this validation seeking attitude increased even more.
It’s not that I made any deliberate attempts to arouse attention. It’s just that I was constantly trying to find out who was paying attention to me. I was asking myself all the time: Did they notice me? What could they be thinking of me? Do they like me? I was not sure in myself, so I wanted some reassurance, even if it was coming from complete strangers.
This mindset became so natural that I didn’t even notice it after a while. It became an unconscious pattern that controlled my life from behind the scenes. It continued on until a very prominent day: the night before my spiritual enlightenment. If you’re interested in that story, I have a separate video about that.
Staying at this topic for now, there was a tremendously important question that triggered all the events afterwards. It was this: Why am I trying so desperately to pick up girls? I was brutally honest with myself that night, and that’s when I discovered that it was connected to my self-esteem issue. At that moment, my whole past attitude towards girls, friends and family suddenly made sense.
That right there was the place and time when my father’s debilitating legacy fell off of my shoulders like a heavy baggage I had been carrying all along. I don’t need anybody’s approval, because I am good. I don’t need anybody’s attention, if I pay attention to myself. I don’t need anybody’s validation, because I am valuable. If I respect, value and approve myself, that’s completely enough. I am enough.
There was no practice, affirmation or magic trick involved, it all happened by itself. Awareness alone cured me of my disease, and it could do the same to you. Your self-worth should be independent of others’ opinions. It’s not a question of debate, the mere fact that you’re alive shows that you deserve life and everything that comes with it. You are valuable and not because I or somebody else tells you so, but because it can’t be otherwise.
You’re valuable not for your achievements, your possessions or your successes, but because you carry life, you are life itself, and life is infinitely valuable. Years after my realization, we had an interesting conversation with my father about values. I shared my perspective with him, and then he asked confused: “So should I value people just like that, like a painting?” I said: “Yes, exactly!” And then he replied: “That’s stupid.”
Yes, that’s stupid in his worldview, but that’s exactly what made him so miserable, and he then made me miserable also. His own self-worth depends on his achievements, because he wasn’t valued properly by his own parents. It’s then no surprise that he couldn’t pass onto me what he himself didn’t have. I had to discover my own intrinsic value by myself, and with this story I want to inspire you to do the same, because it’s worth it!
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