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Throwing yourself under the bus for other people’s validation

Updated: Feb 2

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 62

Hi, my love.

This is a compassionate message that you might want to save for an emergency.

I really want to ask you, with all of the openhearted care that you deserve in your world, where are you throwing yourself under the bus so you can get other people's validation?

This is something that I see in the world around me, in my friends, in people that I care about, happening so often. Changing our behaviour, changing the way that we show up, changing what we say, changing how we say it in the hope that someone else is going to feel a particular way about us or act in a different way towards us or give us some kind of sign and signal that we're okay.

And we want that so badly because our brain receives that "I'm okayness" as "we are safe, it's okay, we can breathe for a minute".

But the problem with seeking external validation from other people is once we've given them all the power, our brain quite quickly will remind us that they might have changed their mind, circumstances might have changed, they might not have seen quite how bad this thing is about us. So we should probably go and seek some more validation from them.

It's like this never-ending hamster wheel of going and digging to make ourselves feel okay because it is trying to fill the void that we are telling ourselves that we may not be okay and, on a bad day, that we're definitely not okay.

And I want to go a little bit extra on this podcast and suggest that maybe it is not what other people think about us that is the problem. Maybe it is not even the way that they behave to us. That is the problem. I think a lot of the time, the problem is that when we think someone doesn't like us when we think someone has something against us, or they have even told us that something that we've done is terribly wrong, we're not worried about what they think or what they do. We are worried about how we speak to ourselves when that person shows up like that or when we presume that that person is thinking that. We can't handle the way that we're going to speak to ourselves.

And I can tell you I know this to be true because if I were to think of my best mate coming and telling me that they thought that I was a bit of a disappointment, I think I'd be really quite upset by that and try and work out what on earth I could have done wrong and how I could change that and how I could solve things (even though I know I do my own courses and I know that I can't change what they feel) but come along with me for the ride. So if my best mate said that they're a bit disappointed with me, I'd be genuinely I'd be really worried, upset and concerned and try and do some big old introspection about it. Nigel Farage came and told me the same thing; I would not give a shit. If Trump came along and told me he thought I was a bit of a disappointment. I'd probably be quite pleased by it.

And this shows that it isn't down to what other people are saying. It is about my thoughts about the other person and about how I think of myself in comparison to that person, what they align with, how they align with my values, and how all of this slots into the big old jigsaw that we consider to be ourselves, our identity and who we are.

So when we finally stop looking all the time to other people for this great big tick mark that tells us we're all right, things will ultimately become better and rosy, the rainbows will come out, and the flowers will start blooming. Is the general idea. Let's just stop looking for external validation. Then, we can all feel safe and happy. And all of us know that despite what Instagram tells us, it's not that bloody easy.

We are hardwired to be looking around us for other people to tell us that we're all right because historically, genetically, we are the ancestors of all of the people who've been very, very conscious and very aware of which people allowed us to feel safe because our very life depended on it. And we are lines and lines and lines of ancestors before us who were super hyperconscious of what all the other people thought about them because they're the ones who lived. It's in our very DNA.

So rather than trying to tell yourself you should stop looking for external validation, you should stop looking to other people to tell you that you're okay; you should stop looking for these little snacks of respite from the nonsense that you're telling yourself. That way, we criticise ourselves when we do it, and it just serves to play into us, berating ourselves all the time rather than telling ourselves we're getting it wrong. Is there any way that you could just add in a little suffix to your seeking of the validation and be like, "Oh, I noticed? I really want that person to like me, and I wonder if there is any way I could give this emotion that I'm seeking to myself?" Or maybe you don't want to get as deep and hippie as all of that. Maybe you just want to go, "I'm really seeking this person to like me. Chances are they probably wouldn't be here if they didn't." Or "I'd like this person to think well of me, and they don't right now, and they're entitled to their opinion", or "That person's quite upset right now, and they're allowed to have a human response. That's fair."

What things can you do to loosen the grip of "this person thinks ill of me, and therefore I'm in danger"? Which is basically what this stuff comes down to.

The more that we can practice that, the more we can stop using other people as ammunition against ourselves and the more that we can learn to trust ourselves and just be gentle with ourselves no matter what other people think of us, the less we have to be frightened about how we're going to treat ourselves when other people have their perfectly human reactions. And it always comes down to how we treat ourselves.

This is a skill that you can learn. It is something that is reinforced by habit. And the more times that you catch yourself where you might have slid into being a bit mean or a bit dismissive or a bit hard on yourself, you just catch yourself and decide at that moment to treat yourself with respect and compassion. With each time you do this, you're building that muscle. With each time you do that, it becomes slightly more accessible next time. And so each time you do, it is very, very important on your journey to be able to learn to speak to yourself with all of the love and all of the kindness and all of the respect that I, with all of my heart, wish for you in your life. And I hope that there's going to be a time when you wish for that for yourself, too.

Please do if you feel like this message sings to your soul or there is a mate of yours who, frankly, is just really horrible to themselves really easily, really frequently, and it might show up as self-deprecating humour, or they might just be out and out mean to themselves, mean to someone you love. Please do feel free to pass this podcast on to them with a little bit of extra love tied up around it this week. And I hope that there will be many occasions for you in the not-too-distant future where you're able to just catch yourself and go, "Maybe this isn't all about whether that person thinks I'm okay or not. Maybe there's a chance that I could think I could think that I'm okay."

I really hope for this for you, and I will see you next week.


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