Due in large part to that self-resentment, I grew hungry for the validation of others- as if to prove to myself that I was good and worthy by appealing to those around me. I did well in school and got along with teachers because I learned that it would result in praise and compliments positive feedback about my worth. I was a "good student" a "bright kid." In the Church I learned that if I followed the rules and listened to my leaders, I would get similar feedback. Parents admired me for not causing trouble, for having a "strong testimony." I craved validation from any source I could find.
The sad thing is, that while people around me expressed all those positive things, I could never internalize them. Deep down I thought that if they really knew who I was, if they knew my secret, they would never say those things. I wrote off every expression of admiration and every compliment paid to me. I taught my brain to immediately dismiss any affirming language directed at me and became very uncomfortable when people complimented me for any reason. In my mind, I believed that I was unworthy... that I was a fraud. If people really knew me, they would be disgusted.
I wish I could say that I've been able to undo this pattern of thought. But after four years of learning to embrace myself and live authentically, I still struggle to view myself as valuable. This permeates most aspects of my life. The shame and guilt I unnecessarily hauled around for most of my life continues to have far reaching effects. I struggle with learning how to overcome this toxic pattern of thought that I adopted in my youth. One can't simply undo 25 years of negative rhetoric with the snap of the fingers.