Achieving true internal validation

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a_bunny

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Achieving true internal validation
« on: June 21, 2019, 05:12:19 PM »
Some thoughts, adapted from my journal, and a question at the end. Interested to hear anyone's thoughts.

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Over the last few days, I started doing CBT on myself, challenging negative thoughts and beliefs. I've done CBT on myself many many times over the past decade and a half+. At this point, this is what I think: CBT is helpful but not sufficient.

If it were sufficient, I wouldn't be going back to do this over and over again. And recent reading I've done on CPTSD and PTSD seem to suggest that CBT has limited effectiveness for treating trauma.

My personal theory about the pieces that are missing, that don't get addressed by this cognitive work:

1. The body piece of the trauma. (I'm planning to start Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy soon, to work directly on the body reaction.)

2. The emotional piece. This is mentioned in the Pete Walker book.

3. CBT makes me feel slightly invalidated. Like I am trying to tell myself these positive thoughts, to change my brain, but a part of me resents that. It's like hey, I have these negative thoughts and beliefs and emotions that feel real to me. Don't just dismiss them and tell me that I'm wrong.

4. After all this time, I find myself still judging myself and craving external validation. I realized it's still important to me to have others' approval, respect, acknowledgement, etc. (I guess I already knew that.) But moreover, it doesn't feel like enough for me to just tell myself the positive thoughts. To tell myself, I am good enough, my [work] is good enough, as if it shouldn't matter at all what others think.
I know (I believe?) that this is because with schemas, we tend to project what we lacked from our parents onto everyone around us. If we didn't get the validation and approval we needed from our parents, when we become adults, everyone around us feels like that potential parent that we desperately need to get that validation and approval from. But it's an illusion. Even if we do get the external validation, it still isn't sufficient to "cure" or "heal" us. It's not the same thing as having true internal validation.

So that's the question, then: How does one achieve true internal validation? When it doesn't feel like enough for me to tell myself positive things about myself. When I still feel so deprived and resentful and angry for needs still going unmet. When I crave so badly to be seen and understood and acknowledged, but even though I try to acknowledge and validate myself, it never feels like I'm getting enough. And I have also done sitting with my emotions, practicing self-compassion and mindfulness and validation of any feelings that come up. Again, this helps, but it feels like something is still missing.

How to feel like my own validation is enough? How to feel like *I* am enough?

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Otillie

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Re: Achieving true internal validation
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2019, 07:56:51 PM »
a_bunny, I don’t know if I have any answers on the internal validation part, but your post hit a lot of feelz in me and I wanted to speak to that.

I’ve never done any formal work in CBT; all I really know is the descriptions I read, the “challenging inner negative thoughts,” and some moments of (well-meaning!) people trying to help me with that.

For me, for my own experience with complex trauma, it has always just felt wrong. (I’m really speaking only for me; I know people, including some other trauma people, and people I love and respect hugely, who’ve found a lot of help in it. I respect that.)

Growing up in an abusive family, I learned early that if I didn’t read my parents’ moods right, it would have serious consequences. I had a very well-honed sense of how to read body language, read unspoken hints and clues, read between the lines. The instincts I developed aren’t perfect . . . but they’re good.

Through the years I’ve learned that when I have negative thoughts — usually they’re right. They’re always worth listening to. The CBT model of challenging these thoughts is actually where I get into trouble. When I start second-guessing what my instinct is telling me, that’s when problems happen. If I pick up that someone is pulling away from me — they are. If I pick up that someone’s uncomfortable around me — they are. If I pick up that a person is some kind of threat to me — they are. There may be more to the story, but my instincts are solid.

Too, I grew up with a mother whose idea of parenting was pretty much “No,” and “You’re wrong,” and “You’re doing it wrong.” (She probably has some personality disorders in there.) When she decided I was a bad kid, she simply opposed whatever I did or said.

And the CBT model feels to me a lot of times like just opposing whatever I’m feeling. It doesn’t feel like healing from Mom’s voice; it feels like working to reinforce Mom’s voice.

Growing up, it became hard for me to feel my feelings or even know what they were, and I think my task as a grown-up is to give myself permission to feel them. Not to challenge them, but more to experience them and understand them. There may be more to the story than my feelings are picking up on, but I’ve found I have to start with embracing them. (My boyfriend told me once: “Otillie, when you have a feeling, you attack it and wrestle it until it gives up its secrets.” Which, um, yeah, that was the moment I fell in love with him.)

Maybe in the end that does get at what you’re asking about internal validation: For me it starts with identifying and experiencing and trusting my thoughts. Everything in the world is ready to challenge them. I want to start by *having* them.

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a_bunny

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Re: Achieving true internal validation
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2019, 10:09:02 PM »
Otillie, thank you so much for your reply. This actually makes a lot of sense to me! This is like what I was saying in pont #3, CBT makes me feel invalidated. So I relate to your post. And the quote from your boyfriend, I think he is dead on about feelings having secrets in them, that are important to find out. This is in line with other things I have learned through reading/therapy/etc. The feelings are telling you something important, so that's why we need to observe them carefully.

After reading your post, I have the feeling I am on the verge of realizing something to do with my emotions and what they are trying to tell me, but I'm not all the way there yet... I will process  this some more and maybe reply again! Thank you!!!