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Many of us do it: pleasing people, trying to prove people wrong about what they said about us, go after a career, car, or big house only to finally arrive, to feel good about ourselves, to feel love.
I know it’s not the latest trick in the psychology box, but it is probably about our childhood.
We have been told our entire life that we are on probation. That’s how our culture is in which most of us grew up. We need to achieve good grades, good looks, and an ability to perform.
We seek validation in our adult life because of the wounds and traumas we responded to when our parents weren’t able to give us unconditional love. Decades into our adulthood, we still behave like children in an everlasting quest to seek love that we never got.
To finally get the validation we always wanted, or wait for someone to tell us, “Now you can stop, you are perfect, you have arrived.”
But does this hamster wheel ever stop? No, it won’t. We stay on probation. We will never find inner peace if we don’t learn to love ourselves.
What does that mean? To love yourself?
It’s the hardest nut to crack, as we say in German. Every day, we need to practice talking to ourselves in a gentle and compassionate way. We need to value what we do and who we are.
First, it might feel strange to do that, but it seems to be the only way.
Stand in front of the mirror and find one thing you love about yourself. Find one thing you can be proud of. Tomorrow, find two things you love about yourself. After a year, you feel more the love inside of you—but it takes time.
But once you realize how good it feels, you never want to go back. We need to remind ourselves what love feels like and let go of unhealthy thoughts in a mindful way.
Talk to yourself about how you imagine a loving relationship. If you cannot feel it, listen to books and podcasts that help to develop this inner voice and feeling.
Never be harsh on yourself for failing one day—it’s part of the process.
There will be setbacks, but the most important thing is that you continue on this journey. Do not fall back into beating yourself up with negative thoughts.
Imagine you step over a border without knowing where you are going.
It’s an empty space where nothing has grown yet. But once you wander around, you will see beautiful flowers growing, a river, and a lake in the far.
That’s how I felt when I started the journey. It was unknown, a vast, empty space.
Every time when I overstep a hidden boundary, I remember that this is the only way: moving forward.