There is a constant struggle trying to be “seen” whether it is through accomplishments or being the best at something. Seeking external validation increases the chances of feeling disappointed, unimportant, or desperate. Even when people or circumstances acknowledge your successes, the enjoyment may be fleeting. Within a short period, you may be looking for more. You know there is always someone or something better ahead.
Many of us come from family systems that fueled a sense of not being enough. We had critical parents who crushed our spirits or uninterested caregivers that never seemed to be available. Outside of our families, we may have had traumatic events that made it challenging to turn inward. The persistent wreckage of violation, inconsistent attachment create intense distrust, affect dysregulation, dissolution of identity, severe dependency, and intense shame. Many people find it difficult to understand why traumatized people cannot access inner resources and derive support from connections with others. Some of us turned to substances or behaviors that initially provided comfort then over time produced unintended consequences.
In recovery, we learn tools and techniques to build self-esteem, self-respect, and authenticity. We find ways to balance internal and external validation. A holistic program of recovery combines emotional, physical, and spiritual health. We may utilize one or all of the following supporters including a therapist, a mentor, a spiritual teacher, a fitness coach, a fellowship, a nutritionist, and a doctor to help us discover our authentic selves.
As a psychotherapist trained in Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy ("AEDP"), the goal is to create safety, trust, compassion, and empathy through a connection between the client and therapist. Over time, we see clients build their capacities for psychological integration and self-regulation. In addition to work with a therapist, it is helpful to ask yourself about the qualities you value about yourself? If you notice a sense of pride, joy, calm, safety, or satisfaction, try to see if they correlate to an alignment between action and one of your core beliefs. If you observed positive feelings after you made a vigorous attempt to accomplish a goal then most likely you value effort. If you experienced satisfaction after helping a friend then most likely you appreciate being of service to others.
Here are the 50 most common values: Authenticity, Achievement, Adventure, Authority, Autonomy, Balance, Beauty, Boldness, Compassion, Challenge, Citizenship, Community, Competency, Contribution, Creativity, Curiosity, Determination, Fairness, Faith, Fame, Friendships, Fun, Growth, Happiness, Honesty, Humor, Influence, Inner Harmony, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Leadership, Learning, Love, Loyalty, Meaningful Work, Openness, Optimism, Peace, Pleasure, Poise, Popularity, Recognition, Religion, Reputation, Respect, Responsibility, Security, Self-Respect, Service, Spirituality, Stability, Success, Status, Trustworthiness, Wealth, and Wisdom.
The alignment of the values you feel is essential, which correlate to your positive feelings will help you refine your sense of self. Joining a fellowship or community that supports you emotionally, spiritually, or physically is an additional path to self-improvement.
Most of us find inspiration with the standard features of peer support and mentorship that comprise most communities. It is helpful to learn by watching others. We hear others stories about triumphs and disappointments that help us feel less shame and aloneness. For thousands of years, human beings have practiced meditation and prayer and sought spiritual connection in sacred settings.
Psychiatrists and doctors help us address our physiological difficulties that can undermine our recovery. Over the years, many clients have come to our treatment centers with underlying thyroid issues, sugar sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders and other conditions. Without an excellent physician on the team, we cannot treat many of a client's health conditions. Doctors may provide medications that can alleviate or aid in a person's emotional regulation in improving the chances of building a viable recovery.
Eating clean, healthy, nutritious foods with yoga and other physical fitness helps individuals with their recovery. As they say, your body is a temple, and we pay homage by providing it with nutrition and exercise.
By now it may be evident from this blog that our view is that mental, physical, spiritual health is inexplicability connected. We can improve our ability to be our authentic selves with a holistic, individualized process of recovery.
Author: Bernadine Fried, LMFT firstname.lastname@example.org