“Why should I love myself, when the people who were supposed to love me, didn’t love me?”
“Why should I take care of myself, when I wasn’t taken care of?”
“Why should I bother trying to improve my life, when the person I most want in my life isn’t in it?”
Many people— a lot more than you think— go though life feeling rejected.
For some people it’s explicit and recent. They have a clear, conscious memory of someone telling them they didn’t want them.
For others, it’s less recent and more implicit.
There are LOT of people out there who have felt rejected and unworthy since childhood— and they’re not quite sure why.
They might have a vague feeling that they weren’t loved or protected the way kids are supposed to be loved or protected.
They might have a feeling that their lives haven’t lived up to what their family expected.
(Of course, for many people, these feelings aren’t “vague” or “implicit” at all— they KNOW they weren’t loved or protected the way kids are supposed to be, or they’ve been TOLD that their lives have fallen short of what their families expect.)
Whatever the circumstances, many of us are left with questions about our basic worth.
We learn to value ourselves based on whether we were valued.
We learn to protect ourselves— or whether we’re even worthy of protection— based on whether we were protected.
Somewhere in the back of our minds, we figure that if we were worthy and valuable, then OF COURSE we would have been valued and protected, ESPECIALLY by the people we were MOST attached to.
Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of us run into a disconnect.
If, for whatever reason, our early lives were complicated when it came to attachment and care, it’s really, really easy for us to get it in our heads that it MUST have been OUR fault.
After all, the adults around us were, well, adults— surely THEY knew what they were doing, right?
When we’re young, we can’t even put this idea into words— we just know that WE feel responsible.
We feel like we’re to blame.
It’s especially rough when we see other kids actually getting the attention, protection, and love that we crave. We wonder what THEY’RE doing right that WE’RE not doing.
Mind you: there are LOTS of reasons why we may not have gotten what we needed growing up.
Those reasons can range from explicit, gratuitous child abuse and neglect at one extreme, to the misfortune of having inexperienced, distracted, or compromised caretakers on the other extreme.
The kind of treatment we got when we were young was rarely about us.
Even if you were the WORST kid in the world and frustrated the HELL out of your caretakers, it was on your caretakers— the adults in the situation— to not take out their frustration on you in destructive ways.
So many people, however, come through their early experiences feeling unworthy, unseen, unredeemable.
I won’t tell anybody they “should” do or feel anything.
I will tell you this, though: because you didn’t get what you needed at one time in your life doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it— and it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love, especially self love, now.
The attitudes and behaviors of those who you were or are attached to do NOT define your worth.
We need to assure the kid inside of us that our deprivation was not because we were ugly, stupid, or otherwise less-than.
We didn’t get that reassurance then, and that deprivation hardened into a belief about ourselves.
But it’s a false belief.
No matter how true it feels.
You were worthy then, and you are worthy now.
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