Bending Over Backwards Is Not Good Exercise

Ayo Ogunseinde

Are you a validation junkie? Accepting less than you think you deserve or really want? Maybe it’s time to step up your game.

I have no idea how many times I’ve fallen into the trap of letting my self-worth be measured by outer validation. To be absolutely honest with you; it used to be all the time.

Getting validation, feeling approved of, is a basic need all humans have. We all want to be liked, to be loved. We all want to belong somewhere, to someone; be it in a family, in a relationship with a significant other or in a group of friends or in a community.

The need for outer validation and a low sense of self-worth often goes hand in hand. For many of us, the sense of worth we place on ourselves is so low that we need outer factors to validate us, to tell us we’re worth something. It can be people, it can be relationships, it can be things we own, the way we live, or it can be academic or job-related accomplishments (which in reality are just performances and have absolutely nothing to do with how much worth you have as a human being).

But when our sense of self-worth is tuned into “not good enough”, we start bending over backwards in order to please, to belong, to be “good enough”. We start breaking our own boundaries, sidestepping our values and give all our personal power away for some undefined, immeasurable anything to make us feel a little worthier of something.

I believe our basic sense of self-worth is formed when we’re kids. The first people mirroring our self-worth are our parents. If you have a parent (or two) with low self-worth, you’ll probably end up with exactly the same outlook on yourself; which is that you’re not worth much – if you don’t get any validation from the outside. Later in life, our own experiences often confirm our sense of worth, either in a good or not so good way. We will all, at some point, face rejection and ignorance, ridicule even. Negative experiences contribute to the “not good enough” factor, confirming the limiting beliefs we already have.

Some years ago I came across a quote saying “we accept the love we think we deserve.” In my experience, this easily translates to “we accept whatever we think we deserve;” be it an intimate relationship, family dynamics, a job you don’t like anymore or friends who don’t really commit to your friendship. We accept it, because deep down, often unconsciously, we don’t think we deserve any better. Which is, of course, completely and utterly BS.

Our low self-worth is the one to blame. When we don’t believe we’re worthy we’re playing small, accepting less than we aimed for in the first place.

Accepting whatever you think you deserve to keep you in the job you don’t like anymore. It keeps you in the relationship with the commitment phobic guy that always dodges your questions about the future (and probably always will). It keeps you in relationships with friends that’s long past its expiration dates. It keeps your dreams and hopes for the future on hold indefinitely. It keeps you from asking for what you truly desire. it keeps you settling for so much less than you really want. And while you are settling, you’re missing out on better options, on opportunities that could have given you exactly what you were looking for in the first place.

So, in order to be valued, we bend over backwards for other people. But bending over backwards is not good exercise. (Jumping for joy is, but that’s another story). We say yes when we mean no, and no when we mean yes. We’re accepting scraps and leftovers because something is so much better than nothing. We’re silently screaming see me, love me, like me; value me. Hell, you might even be heard and get the external validation you so desperately need. The only thing is, outer validation has absolutely no staying power whatsoever. It wears away like cheap mascara, leaving you wanting more.

The only solution is to cultivate our own sense of worth. It might sound easy, but let’s be honest here; self-worth isn’t restored overnight. It would be great if there was some kind of quick fix, a fail proof recipe to follow; a Self-Worth 101 guide jam-packed with great “how tos.” But there isn’t. Raising your self-worth is hard work, it’s a process that takes time, attention and willpower. But it can be done.

First of all, you need to realize that the only one who’ll always be there for you is you. You need to start taking care of yourself and your thoughts and start controlling your inner world. Because at the end of the day it’s only you baby, you and you alone who makes the difference and gets to decide how you want your world to be.

You need to become your own best friend. You need to put self-care in the front seat and make it a priority. You need to set healthy boundaries for yourself and watch out for those around you that will step on them without any thought or regret. You need to be super clear on your values and what you truly, truly want. You need to figure out when, how and with whom you bend over backwards with for approval and validation. Identify your patterns. And once identified, make a conscious choice to act differently.

Decide that enough is enough, that you are through with feeling this way. Decide that you are done playing small and settling for less. Speak your mind if needed, even if it scares the hell out of you at first. And please, please, please be kind to yourself.

We can never change outer circumstances or how other people act and behave around us or towards us. But we can change ourselves, the way we think, the way we act and how we want to see the world. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog