Yesterday I realised that I transferred my need to please straight from my parents to my (now) husband. Okay, so it grew in different directions with each new boss, but what has been constant, is this need to get outside approval, merit, rewards, badges, accolades, degrees, promotions, noddy badges - because I never approved of myself. So I needed to hear it from someone else. I could not be trusted. It needed to come from an outside source so that I knew I fitted in.
Also, because I have always been sensitive in an apparently insensitive world I knew how I felt injured, so I possessed the knowledge on how to injure others. Which I did. 'You're so stupid' is way up there on the injury list. Contempt. Withdrawal.
Which is, of course, how I treated myself: constantly contemptuous, ridiculing myself, 'you're so stupid' chanting in my head. Never trusting my own instincts, desperate to prove to others, and myself too, that I was worth something.
And then the withdrawal. I withdrew my true self and sought approval with a trumped-up merited being with a mask of vacant, innocuous nothingness - polite, smiling, earnest in learning, playing by the rules - testing the theory of living, of life, I was sold by my family, my community and society at large.
It was a pipe-dream that got me lost in a sea of suppression. My true talents and callings evaporated and I robotically showed up and pretended to live, anesthetizing myself with alcohol, cigarettes and approval from others. But that balm does not stick. The wound suppurated and oozed and it became too big to ignore.
And on my road to recovery, I discovered parts of myself, solidifying from the ether, into joyful, satisfying expressions of my true self. It felt easy to do the things I was good at doing - I never knew that I had this whole person living inside of me, unexpressed.
The past 5 years of truthfully expressing myself have been the most joyful, interspersed by moments of real soul-searching and facing the 'ugly' side too, the fact that I am All That Is: magnificent and morose, generous and jealous, artful and angry - the whole lot rolled up into one being of Truth.
Because I also discovered that there was no judgment from the Being a lot of us call God. That the meaning of life was just to live, anyway we choose. But that there are consequences to all choices. My living for others gave me a life with no meaning to myself - the consequence of pleasing others. Living more authentically gives me more and more opportunities to see my truth and I have learnt that the more truthful I am, the more joyful, easy and talented I feel: a rock star in my own world.
So be guided by your joy, your talent, that which you find easy, and face your shadows, see how they serve you, and life becomes easy, joyful and authentically felt as a result. And in my experience, at least, these are far better guides than the opinions of others.