It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field
When you’ve been in a toxic relationship dealing with narcissistic abuse, you might find yourself so deep in chronic people-pleaser mode that you literally focus so much on what the narcissist wants that you forget about yourself. So let me ask you: How many times have you not followed your heart because you were worried about what other people might think? How often have you avoided doing something you truly wanted to do because you couldn’t stand the idea that other people would judge you?
Who makes your choices for you, really?
Have you based your major life choices on your own desires, or have you allowed other people to influence you? Do you have regrets because you have given someone else the power to make decisions in your life, whether directly or indirectly? Have you chosen your job, a partner, or your home because someone else thought you should? If so, you’re not alone – and you might be dealing with a serious case of codependency.
What is codependency?
Codependency is a toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.
Are you a codependent people pleaser?
Most everyone has, at one time or another, made a choice in their lives that was based on someone else’s opinion. And while there are certainly times when it’s appropriate to do so, there are plenty of times that we regret not following our own intuition.
The difference is this: when you accept the advice of someone else because you feel that it’s right for you, you’re following your own gut and can consider it inspired action – but when you bend to someone else’s will to please them (despite your own feelings), you’re shortchanging yourself in the happiness department. And, you’re probably codependent. (Not sure? Take our codependency test here!)
Why Do We Care What Other People Think, Anyway?
It’s human nature to care what other people think. From infancy, we learn that when we do what someone else wants us to do, they’re happy with us–and that feels good. As we get older and learn to make the occasional unpopular decision, we are sometimes shocked to learn that some people actually seem to stop being nice to us when we don’t follow their “advice” for living.
But ultimately, we care what people think because we are taught to base our identities on the messages they give us. When our parents tell us we’re good for following their rules, for example, we begin to feel that we need to follow the rules to be good. When our kindergarten teachers scold us for coloring outside the lines, we begin to feel that unless we “stay inside the lines,” we’re wrong.
We take the messages that we hear from others about ourselves every day of our lives, and we internalize them–to such an extent that we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others for our own self-worth.
Should We Just Stop Caring?
Of course, this is a two-sided coin. While we certainly need to learn to follow our hearts and our own intuition toward inspired action and to make our own life choices, there are times we need to follow the rules. For example, to be productive members of society, we need to follow certain societal norms–at the very least, we have to follow the laws of the land.
And, the fact of the matter is, most of us aren’t able to just “turn off” caring about what others, especially those we care about, think about us and our choices. We don’t want to become cold and immune to the emotions of others, but we want to be happy. To be happy, we must make our own choices, follow our own divine inspiration for what we want our lives to be. At the end of the day, we’re the ones who must live with the decisions we make.
So where does this leave us? Are we doomed to an eternal internal struggle? How do we start taking charge of our own lives and stop letting the judgments and opinions of others dictate our choices? What do you think?
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
My passion for professional success is renewed each day.
I am born to succeed in a professional environment. And because I know it, I am passionate about it. I know I have the elements it takes to succeed in my career.
Each morning, I naturally regain the energy to take on all of work’s challenges. I feel equipped for everything that comes my way as I move through the day’s tasks. I love the thrill of work and the feeling of accomplishment in the workplace.
I see nothing as unattainable. I utilize my strengths of organization and emotional control to make it through even the roughest tasks.
I know how easy it is to get flustered when it seems there are more responsibilities than hours in the day. I can relate to feeling overwhelmed by all that I am tasked to do. But my approach is to organize in order of priority, and then take one step at a time. I recognize that I accomplish so much more when I pace myself.
At the end of each day, I have more successes because I create a professional and organized environment to work in.
Today, I can maintain the passion needed in my profession because I am driven to succeed. I love the feeling I get when I knock my tasks off one at a time and feel reinvigorated to take on even more tomorrow.
Ask Yourself These Self-Reflection Questions:
1. Are there skills I need to sharpen in my professional life?
2. Can I teach co-workers how to be passionate about their jobs?
3. Am I driven by financial reward?
It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field
As I was checking my email today, I received a notification that a new comment had arrived on a post I did on this blog about how to stop feeling like you’re not good enough. This comment touched me so deeply that I felt the need to reach out to the commenter, Kate, and anyone else in her position.
I have been doing what that article recommends. Unfortunately, I’m feeling even more inferior every time. It is getting worse, day by day.
The first thing I want Kate to know is that she’s not alone. According to Dr. Joe Rubino, approximately 85% of people have experienced feelings of inferiority at some time in their lives. That’s nearly EVERYONE. I realize that doesn’t make it all better, but sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can help one begin the healing process.
And, for Kate and anyone who feels like they’re not good enough, I’d like to offer a few more suggestions, in addition to the ones made in this post.
Remember That You Are Freaking Fabulous
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh
Often times, when we feel like we’re not good enough, we are focusing on all of the things we think are ‘wrong’ with us. We worry that people won’t like us, or that they’ll think bad things about us. We feel like we don’t look good enough, that we’re not smart enough, that we’re just generally terrible people.
But what does this get us? More reasons to feel crappy about ourselves. So, I propose that we start focusing on the things we like about ourselves, the things that make us proud. Maybe you’re a good painter, or you can cook a perfect souffle, or you’ve never met an animal who doesn’t love you. Perhaps you have a beautiful smile, sparkling eyes or a great pair of legs. There is something special about every single person on the planet, and you’re no exception.
Sit down with a piece of paper and write down at least ten GOOD things about you. Write down things you love about your body (it gets you from point A to B, for example!), things you love about your personality (that sparkling wit of yours, maybe) and things you love about your life in general (you have good friends or a close-knit family, a roof over your head, etc.)
Then spend a few minutes feeling grateful for each thing on that list. Gratitude is a powerful tool, and when you focus and are grateful for the things you love in life, you draw more things to love into your life.
And Speaking of Gratitude
If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. ~Frank A. Clark
Start a gratitude journal. You can even create a private blog for your gratitude journal, if you like. That’s what I did, since as a writer, I’m nearly always near a computer. Try to write in it each day. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated–just start each entry by saying “Today, I am so very grateful for…” and let it flow.
At first, it will feel a little awkward, but once you get going, it’ll flow like water. If you have trouble thinking of things to be grateful for, why not start with the fact that you woke up today and work from there. You can be grateful for your health, your senses, your friends and family, your home, your ability to read–the list goes on and on.
This practice alone can significantly improve your general outlook on life. And, as a nice little side effect, it can help to improve your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It works because as you spend more time focusing on the good things in your life and less time focusing on the things you want to change, the law of attraction works in your favor, bringing more reasons to feel good into your life.
Follow a Passion
“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”~Earl Nightingale
Everyone has some thing or activity in their lives that they’re passionate about. For me, it’s writing. I have always known that I wanted to be a writer, and have followed that passion on some level for most of my life. The years I spent scribbling into a journal between meetings and writing corporate publications for the companies I worked for were a little tough, but I survived and lived to have the opportunity to follow my passion full-time.
One friend of mine is passionate about helping animals. She blogs about animals, volunteers for the Humane Society and helps raise funds for animal rights and assistance groups. Another friend is passionate about helping kids–and after getting her Masters Degree in Social Work, she has become a school social worker. Both are very happy in their lives.
While you may not have the option to “quit your day job” right now, there’s nothing stopping you from finding and following your passion on the side. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. You could start by doing some research and taking some classes. If you already know how to design patterns and sew, why not start making clothes? You can set up a cheap or free website and start selling.
Nothing wrong with starting small–just do SOMETHING to follow your passion, anything at all. Give yourself permission to call yourself a fashion designer (or writer, or artist, or actor, or astronaut, or whatever you want to be.) And then go and do, be and have what you want!
Studies show that people who follow their passions, whether in their careers or just as a hobby, are significantly happier than people who don’t.
“The secret of attraction is to love yourself. Attractive people judge neither themselves nor others. They are open to gestures of love. They think about love, and express their love in every action. They know that love is not a mere sentiment, but the ultimate truth at the heart of the universe.” ~Deepak Chopra
Most people unconsciously judge others. It’s human nature, and it doesn’t make you a bad person–but it might make you feel like one. When you are focusing, consciously or otherwise, on the faults in other people, you’re going to be more likely to see them in yourself too. The best way to change this pattern is to begin intentionally finding something good in every single person you meet.
So, for every person in your life and every person you meet, find at least one thing about them that makes them special. And be free with the compliments. Even if you barely know a person, you can find SOMETHING to compliment them about–and not only will you make their day, you’ll walk away feeling good about yourself too. Remember, what you put out into the world is what comes back to you. So if you’re walking around finding good and beautiful things and sharing the love by freely passing out compliments? You’ll find that you’re attracting the same back to yourself–beauty, love, compliments–and ultimately, a renewed sense of self.
A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her. ~David Brinkley
I hope that these suggestions help you as you move into a new place of peace and self worth. Know that you are worthy, you are special and you are an amazing person. Even (and especially) when you feel at your lowest, try to change your perception and see the beauty and good things all around you. Be grateful for your life, for your SELF, and for all of the good things in your life.
I have been where you are, Kate, and I know the pain and despair that comes with feeling like you’re not good enough. Nearly every person alive has felt just like you feel now. The trick is to decide that you don’t WANT to feel that way any more, and to start taking action to change it. And then, Kate, you have to BELIEVE that you can have the life you want. Believe it and trust that its yours, and watch as your life begins to transform itself to match your true divine desires. Keep your eye on the prize, my friend, it can and will get better!
And to the rest of my readers, have you ever felt like Kate feels? What sort of advice would you offer to a friend in her situation? Let me know in the comments.