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Internal Validation

OceanSpray

MyPTSD Pro
What is this magical thing and how does it work?

Basically my self esteem currently rests on people giving me a pat on the back and I’d like to not be that way because I’m finding it’s not very sustainable and in fact worsens my self esteem even more.

How do I know if I’m making the right decision?
How do I know if the thing I created is any good?
How on earth does anyone say this thing I made is actually something to be proud of?
How does anyone judge that they themselves have any remote talent in anything?
 
Basically my self esteem currently rests on people giving me a pat on the back and I’d like to not be that way because I’m finding it’s not very sustainable and in fact worsens my self esteem even more.

How do I know if I’m making the right decision?
How do I know if the thing I created is any good?
How on earth does anyone say this thing I made is actually something to be proud of?
How does anyone judge that they themselves have any remote talent in anything?
So, I'm wondering if you have any reaction *before* someone gives you a pat on the back (or not)?

Like do you ever do something and during the process say to yourself (even if it's just a momentary thing), "wow...this is good," or "I did a good job?" Because I do (only it lasts just seconds, usually), THEN I go searching for validation from someone else. If I don't get it, I shift my self-talk to "this is lousy" or "I can't do anything right."

Took me a long time to recognize the positive acknowledgment I was making. It was sooo quiet and slipped by sooo fast.
 
So, I'm wondering if you have any reaction *before* someone gives you a pat on the back (or not)?

Like do you ever do something and during the process say to yourself (even if it's just a momentary thing), "wow...this is good," or "I did a good job?" Because I do (only it lasts just seconds, usually), THEN I go searching for validation from someone else. If I don't get it, I shift my self-talk to "this is lousy" or "I can't do anything right."

Took me a long time to recognize the positive acknowledgment I was making. It was sooo quiet and slipped by sooo fast.


That’s EXACTLY what happens. During and immediately after, I’m usually in love with whatever, I really like it and feel proud. And then ya, I proudly shove it around to different places and when it’s not matched with the same feeling I initially had I do start that whole negative cycle and end up just hating everything I touch. I feel like I’m a liar, fake, hypocrite, anyone who does act even slightly positive is clearly lying to me as well.
 
That’s EXACTLY what happens. During and immediately after, I’m usually in love with whatever, I really like it and feel proud. And then ya, I proudly shove it around to different places and when it’s not matched with the same feeling I initially had I do start that whole negative cycle and end up just hating everything I touch. I feel like I’m a liar, fake, hypocrite, anyone who does act even slightly positive is clearly lying to me as well.
I'm not sure what shifted for me, except over the last 3 years or so, I've come to *really* dislike people, and it doesn't make any difference to me most of the time what they think. I'm also gradually coming to understand that nothing really matters in the long run (and I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean, we could all die tomorrow, and what we've done or not done and how anyone feels about it just won't be an issue). It's a work-in-progress--I still have issues with it sometimes.
 
a most excellent list of questions for my own brutalized self-esteem, oceanspray. at my most dysfunctional, i am to proud to admit that my self-esteem is dependent on external reactions, but? ? ? when i can see past the denial, it becomes obvious that i, in fact, am very dependent on external reactions and, as you stated for your own case, such reliance is far from sustainable.
During and immediately after, I’m usually in love with whatever, I really like it and feel proud.
i work to retain this pride and remind myself of it, often.
I feel like I’m a liar, fake, hypocrite, anyone who does act even slightly positive is clearly lying to me as well.
i have gone so far as to commit acts of violence against anyone who won't take back that compliment. HOW DARE YOU COMPLIMENT ME, YOU STOOGE! ! ! COME CLEAN, MANIPULATOR! ! ! WHAT ARE YOU BUTTERING ME UP FOR NOW?!?!?! DON'T YOU DARE STICK THAT APPLE IN MY MOUTH! ! ! i remind myself often that this is my social anxiety talking. consider the source. i add in lots of positive affirmations between the reminders.
 
What is this magical thing and how does it work?

I relied on external cues almost completely (flew by the seat of my pants my whole life, thriving on praise &/or competition from any quarter, trusting the judgment and opinions of others on who/what/how I should be/act/think/behave) … until …I got an attagirl from someone I despised, whilst someone I admired and respected was deeply disappointed in and disgusted with me, over the exact same action. Talk about a mindf*ck moment. It had probably happened before. That just happened to be the first time I cared. Hit me like a lead brick.

One of those reevaluate everything shifts in life.

It was the first time I began to develop my own moral code, instead of following other people's (or doing whatever the f*ck I felt like at the time). It was a good thing. I was also a very, very hard thing. In part because I could no longer simply follow those I liked and respected. I had to be right with myself first. And sometimes that meant disagreeing with those I liked and respected. Or agreeing with those I didn’t.

I still listened to those I respected and admired… and I learned very quickly to check myself hard if I'm catching flak from that quarter, just the same as getting praise from assholes… but if I'm right with it? Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Self respect. It’s a thing.

I was lucky... I was in the middle of being very, very busy at the time… In a way that also let me seriously thrash out the edges and limits of that code.

It wasn't until later, much later, after the cold hard left that I got sucked down into the guilt/shame/depression abyss. For the things I did, the things I didn't do, the things I wished I had done differently. Especially from before I thrashed out my own shit, but also from when I was learning, or broke with it after. Regret. Also a thing.

PTSD adds an extra sharp edge to that. My PTSD is tied up both in things I did, & things I didn't do. So there is some overlap in working out my own beliefs about what is right/wrong/necessary that is sometimes difficult to sort, but it's a different level. Still, remorse & regret gut me. And that provides easy access for my PTSD to get wildly out of hand and the whole thing snowballs if I don't sort that shit pronto.

So what IS internal validation? IMO/IME Trusting your own judgment above that of others, but not to the exclusion of others. I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m right/wrong/etc. Although it can still be useful, fun, edifying, or even wanted? It’s not needed. It’s bonus, not backbone.

How to get there? Practice. A whole helluva lot of practice.

ETA : START by
making a list of what you already don’t need others to tell you. It will probably seem veeeeeeeery stupid (like I have blue eyes, I know when I need to use the loo & how badly, etc.) but? It gives you a baseline to refer back to / against which to pattern what you’re working on. Then create some broad categories of other things that fall into different levels of trusting your own judgment / assessement / abilities / beliefs… and start practicing.

ETA2 : You might find this thread useful >>> How do you build/find self worth?
 
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Here’s a straightforward article about the difference between self esteem (which is often tenuous, and rests on comparisons which may be unhelpful, or things that are out of our control) and self acceptance (which, once built up, tends to be far more stable).

Unstable self esteem is really common. But in folks who had an abusive childhood, it’s almost universal. Building a healthy amount of self acceptance is still something we can do as adults, even if we’ve had those issues developing a stable sense of self during our childhood:)
 
Thank you all! I’m too tired to respond fully tonight but plan to come back to this. These responses were super helpful.
 
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