Life Is Not A Popularity Contest

IMG_4062We’re born intrinsically worthy. Every person on the planet – every single baby – is born deserving of love. When we gaze upon the miracle of a newborn, we don’t say, “I’ll only love you if you’re the smartest, most popular person in your school and you attend Harvard one day and become a doctor and marry another doctor and live in a fancy house and drive fancy cars.” No, we love a baby because she exists. We pour love into the perfection of a baby because he’s here. I love you because I love you. And the baby feels loved for no reason at all.

But somewhere along the way, the baby learns that the loving is conditional. Perhaps it’s when he sees his mother’s eyes brighten when he reads his first words at age three. Or perhaps it’s when she hears her father bragging to his friends that his daughter walked at nine months old. Or perhaps it’s in school when she hears her teacher praising her friend’s drawing and overlooking her own. Or perhaps it’s in religious school when he’s introduced to duality – the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad – and wonders where he’s right or wrong, good or bad.

Our culture is predicated on competition and comparisons. It’s not parents’ or teachers’ or religious leaders’ fault that they’re perpetuating the damage caused by a culture of praise; they’re merely products of the same culture and likely judge themselves by these same standards. We are a culture that judges based on externals – achievements, looks, clothes, body, paycheck, degrees – and these externals become the basis by which we determine worthiness. Children learn early to seek this praise and avoid criticism. They become addicted to the praise, in fact, and learn to run from failure like the plague. The messages are everywhere and unavoidable, and it’s almost impossible to emerge from childhood unscathed by the equation that worthiness is defined by externals and achievements.

An offshoot of this equation is learning to place one’s authority and sense of Self in others’ hands, learning early that everyone – parents, teachers, friends, therapists, and doctors – must know better than you do. At this point, you realize that you have successfully handed over your self-trust, and without self-trust, you’ve lost the rudder by which you know yourself and love yourself. Life now feels confusing and overwhelming, and it’s easy to become stuck and lost.

The good news is that self-trust can be restored. With accurate information, effective tools, and the right support, you can learn to reclaim your damaged self-trust and learn to live your life from a place of clarity and inner power.

The key is in recognizing that the common consequences of damaged self-trust – caring what others think, comparing yourself to others, difficulty making decisions, the fear of failure, addiction to approval and perfectionism – all result from one cause: externalizing your sense of self. When you learn to fill your inner well of Self instead of futilely holding a bottomless bucket in front of you and hoping that something or someone “out there” will fill it, you begin to regain and repair the intrinsically derived self-worth with which you were born.

Everyone can learn to undo these damaging messages and restore self-trust. Like all healing work, it requires time, patience, and commitment, as well as the support of a compassionate community all struggling with the same issues, but from what I see there is no endeavor more worthy of your time than retrieving your lost Self. Without that sense of Self, life is confusing and meaningless. But once you overturn the cultural lies and reclaim what is rightfully yours, the possibilities unfold before you like a vast and limitless ocean.

You are worthy and capable. You deserve to live the life you were meant to live. Inside of you dwells the luminous crystal of your self-trust, the compass by which you can navigate your life. Are you ready to find it?

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To learn how to repair self-trust, click here to learn more about Trust Yourself: A 30-day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, addiction to approval, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt

 

 

18 comments to Life Is Not A Popularity Contest

  • Ashley Chapman

    Hello,

    How does one know to trust oneself versus your fear ego. I have listened to others my entire life to the point I looked to them for guidance instead of myself. I have asked everyone for their opinion that I have confused myself. Like I want to break up with my boyfriend for no reason. He loves me and I believe I love him but I still want to break up. I have dealt with the gay spike and intrusive thought. I cry at the thought of breaking up it makes me think its the right decsion. But how can that be the right decision if I have gone through all the thins you have mentioned in your blog. I feel lost I dont want t have to makethe decision to break up.. p Please help.. How doI trust myself

  • Maria Enciu

    How do I sign up for the new program? “How do I trust myself”

    • Click on the links in this article and they will take you to the information page for my new 30 day program: Trust Yourself: A 30-day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, addiction to approval, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt.

  • Ashley Chapman

    I would cannot afford it.

    • I understand. I wish there was a simple 3-step guide that I could offer but the issue of broken self-trust and how to repair it is much more complicated that that, which is why I created the 30-day program. I will be in touch with you directly.

  • Kitty

    This blog made me think of my wedding dress shopping, I tried on over 100 wedding dresses and I am not exaggerating!
    I took all my close friends/family with me and sometimes went on my own, every time I tried 1 on someone would comment that it was perfect or that it wasn’t quite right, I had completely lost sight of what I liked or what I felt. I was so overwhelmed and possibly using this ‘dress dilema’ to mask deeper feelings of grief at getting married.
    The more we rely on everybody else for their approval the more lost we become.
    I believe in what you say, it’s essential for us to learn to trust ourselves . Thank you Sheryl x

  • Suzie

    Hi i already posted this somewhere else, but i didnt get a response. I purchased the ‘trust yourself’ e course. But i didnt receive any sort of email receipt. Is this ok? I know the money came out of my account.

  • Louise

    This sounds exactly how I feel and would love to sign up. Unfortunately I cannot afford.

  • Kelly

    I feel this also ties in with relationship anxiety. There are days when I feel my significant other isn’t as personable as I’d like him to be, or does not present himself as well as he could (yes, snotty, I know). But he is the sweetest, most giving person I’ve ever met. It is not him, but me…and my lack of self-trust. Needing and craving other people’s approval instead of trusting myself that I’ve chosen the right person for ME in my life. Thank you for this and reminding me to look inward instead of projecting.

  • Jared

    Great post Sheryl!!!

  • Rhiana

    Sheryl,

    I have been following your blog since my wedding last summer when my Officiant, Annemarie Juhlian recommended you to me afterward when I had some post wedding blues. Your words have always proven timely to things I am working on in my life. I stive for consciousness and authenticity in all that I do.

    This post especially touches me when you talk about how we learned “to place one’s authority and sense of Self in others’ hands, learning early that everyone – parents, teachers, friends, therapists, and doctors – must know better than you do.” I have been at times in my life where I felt completely lost and knew only to turn to therapy or a friend or mentor because I felt I had no answers for my self. I realize now this is that lack of self-trust. I have become stuck or lost in th past. I do recognize my behaviors r/t “damaged self-trust – caring what others think, comparing yourself to others, difficulty making decisions, the fear of failure, addiction to approval and perfectionism” that is me!
    At 47, with 13 + years sobriety, I am ready to not be this woman. I have been reading a lot of Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability and feel that your Trust program is a great next step.
    I am signed up and looking forward to the process! ~Namaste

  • Louise

    Do you have a book on this that I can buy? as I cannot afford the course x

  • Louise

    Sorry I just saw your reply. I’ll email you x