Mental health statistics in the United States paint a gloomy picture of a society filled with citizens who are unhappy with life and themselves as individuals. With around 40 million adults suffering from anxiety disorders and another 15 million battling depression, one must wonder where the billions of dollars being spent to solve America’s mental health crisis are actually going.
While there are a plethora of individualized issues that cause these mental illnesses, it is certain that at least a portion of the problem is due to citizens not being satisfied with who they are as people. Unfortunately, because our childhood needs for loving and accepting parents oftentimes morph into deeply ingrained beliefs about needing external approval and material possessions, self-sufficient adults remain unable to lead fulfilling lives since they’re continuously trying to live up to the expectations of others.
Additionally, the undeniable truth of individuals seeking approval, instead of validating their own worth, not only plays a role in the troubling mental health statistics but also shows why it’s only possible to find lasting levels of fulfillment by first learning how to accept and love one’s self.
Our Needs From Infancy to Adolescence:
While each and every person is born into this world under different situational circumstances, all of us are born with the same singular biological objective. Prewired into our DNA, and the DNA of all animal species is an inborn desire to do whatever is necessary to survive so we can keep the human species from becoming extinct. This means that from the time we take our first breath until we reach self-sufficiency in adulthood, we must act in ways that produce acceptance and love from others. Without having parental figures to nurture us with food, warmth, protection, and information about how the world works, we wouldn’t be able to survive, in the younger years of our lives, longer than a few days.
This truth alone illuminates why each and every child is naturally inclined to seek love and care from individuals who are able to provide. Some years later, when we become teenagers, this natural drive to seek approval, love, and acceptance from others has become so ingrained that we act upon it as if it’s our only option.
Additionally, by the time we’re ready to venture from the nest, we have unconsciously learned the important lesson that humans have been able to thrive, even when facing much bigger and stronger predators because we discovered how to communicate with one another and work together as one. There isn’t any questioning the fact that these two survival mechanisms of seeking care from others and working with people for a bigger purpose are still imperative for human survival, but it’s also important to realize how they can limit our levels of subjective well-being.
Carrying Our Childhood Needs into Adulthood:
While the reality of seeking care from parental figures, in order to survive, is of utmost importance for children in their youth, all too many of us grow into self-sufficiency and bring this predisposition with us. By the time we become adults, we are so conditioned to act in ways that produce acceptance and love from others that we relinquish the ability to create happiness for ourselves. Unquestionably, our childhood need for approval unconsciously morphs into an ingrained belief that is centered around the idea of seeking validation from others, and society as a whole, in order to feel worthy, safe, and secure.
When you really think about the ways in which people act, it becomes clear to see just how many individuals carry their childhood needs into their adult lives. For example, if an individual decides not to follow an educational or career path that’s not respected by their peers, or they decide not to get married and have kids, they face the reality of being ostracized by others. Additionally, many individuals buy particular clothes, try to find beautiful partners, and tirelessly pursue professional endeavors in order to generate the societal acceptance they believe will make them fulfilled. Without even realizing it, many adults will go much of their lives with the sole purpose of being likable and accepted by others.
Self-Acceptance & True Happiness:
None of what has been said thus far in the article is meant to diminish the importance of relationships or devalue the opinions of others, rather it’s meant to illuminate the fact that the person’s love and acceptance we most need is ourselves. As we move into our adult lives, our most basic desire to be cared for transforms into a yearning to find fulfillment yet unconsciously we falsely assume that our happiness will forever be based upon our ability to be validated by others. Unfortunately, this faulty way of thinking leads to many worries and much pain because we’ll never be able to find what we crave at the deepest level of our beings by striving to meet the aims and desires of our friends, family, or peers.
The truth is that the only way to move closer to finding the fulfillment that you seek at the core of your being is to start acting in ways that make you happy. This is by no means meant to say that you shouldn’t get married, have kids, or become a doctor, but you should make sure that your decisions are based upon your deepest level desires and not someone else’s. Because self-acceptance and self-love are prerequisites for finding true happiness, and because self-acceptance and self-love are only possible by following one’s most heartfelt desires, it’s imperative that we start taking steps to validate our own worth.
Finding Fulfillment By Validating Your Own Worth:
To move yourself closer to validating your own worth, and finding the fulfillment that you seek, you’ll first have to get in touch with the deepest parts of yourself and determine what’ll make you happy. When going through this process you should aim to uncover what it is you truly want in your personal life, relationships, and career, and you can use a variety of conscious questions to facilitate the discovery of these answers. A few potential questions that you may want to consider contemplating are: ‘What do I want in life?’, ‘What is success?’ and ‘What things will make me truly happy?’.
It should be pointed out that while it is quite easy to irrationally answer these questions in a selfish or hurtful manner, the truth is that at the core of beings, we want to find lasting happiness through non-materialistic actions that are beneficial for both ourselves and others.
By using the power of conscious questions on a daily basis over an extended period of time, it is certain that’ll you get in touch with your true self and eventually find the things that are most important to you. It can also be very useful to regularly examine your actions and determine if they are based on the false belief of needing acceptance to be fulfilled.
Once we truly understand how our behaviors often are based upon gaining approval from others, we can begin to act in independent ways that are most beneficial for ourselves. Yet still, it is most important to remember that your own opinion of yourself is the one that you should hold in the highest regard and you can validate your own worth by completely accepting who you are as a person and doing the things that are most important to you.
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