Letting Go of the Need for External Validation

We were always playing a character in our addiction. Our walls went up and we chose what to let other see, rarely giving anyone a glimpse at our true self. Alcohol and drugs allowed us to feel comfortable with ourselves for a brief moment in time, but when we were not using, we could rarely sit with ourselves. We relied on external validation to give us a sense of worth, rather than taking the time to fix our internal condition that made it impossible for us to be comfortable with ourselves.
Everyone appreciates kind words and attention from others, but we often relied on this sort of validation to give us purpose. When someone did not give us the validation we wanted from them, we turned to drugs and alcohol to feel better. Elizabeth Thornton, in a 2015 Psychology Today article, “Do You Have an External Validation Mental Model?”, explains, “ The problem, given what we now know, is that if you base your self-concept on what you think others think of you, then you will always be vulnerable. Your self-concept has no true foundation. If the other person is having a good day and responds to you in a friendly, affirming manner, then you feel good. If not, you wonder what you did wrong. We are constantly trying to project an image of ourselves based on what we think others want, but since we really don’t know what they want, what we are really doing is deciding what we think they want and then trying to project that image. It’s a losing game.” Without a firm grasp of our own identity, we are constantly playing a character that we believe others want to see. This can often exacerbate out addictive behavior—either we use drugs and alcohol to cope with a lack of external validation, or we find a sense of identity by playing the stereotypical character of a “drug addict” or “alcoholic”. Recovery is a healing process that requires us to engage in personal development through self-exploration. We find out who we are at the core of our being and shed the costumes of the characters we have been playing throughout our lives.

Acceptance is one of the first steps on the path toward recovery. Your story can change for the better by seeking sobriety. Oceanfront Recovery, a men’s treatment facility in Orange County, California, offers a variety of cutting-edge treatment techniques, including Narrative Change Story, to give you the best chance of achieving sobriety. For more information about treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777