By Arlina Allen, SHE RECOVERS Coach | SHE RECOVERS® Foundation
I keep coming back to the idea that there are limitless versions of me and they all see me the way I now see my Mom. I only care about the good parts of her. That’s what matters to me now. That is her gift to me. Since I can now see the truth about her, I can now see the truth about me and focus on the good that is within me. -Arlina Allen
Over my 28th sobriety anniversary, I attended the SHE RECOVERS event in Miami and was present for some amazing speakers. SHE RECOVERS Founder Dawn Nickel said the weekend would be transformative, but I had no idea how right she would be or how it would manifest.
As it turns out, it was my inner validation junkie that would be transformed. That’s the part of me that is always seeking outside of myself for approval. It’s like an exhausting taskmaster that prevents me from feeling accomplished or content. There is always more to do, there is never enough time, the work is never good enough and it constantly beckons me to try harder to reach an ever-moving finish line. Do you have that voice too? I’m hoping what I learned could help you as well.
Here’s the question that came up for me as I processed what I was hearing at SHE RECOVERS in Miami: What if all the validation and approval I ever wanted is inside me right now? What if there are a bunch of different versions of me all approving of me and validating me right now?
Maybe that is a thing. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out.
I realized that this idea could actually be true. Every day I have been on this planet there is a version of myself that exists within the space-time continuum. Abraham Hicks calls it “The Vortex ”. Deepak Chopra calls it, “the field of possibility.” A place where all versions of me exist simultaneously.
To take this idea further, my soul is immortal and there are limitless expressions of that soul that always were and will always be, even after my earthly personality expires.
So here’s what I’ve concluded:
1 – These versions of me are real.
2 – They are all inside me and in the quantum field at the same time.
3 – They see the truth about me and they think I’m amazing.
That’s the shortcut, but let me go all the way around to explain how I came to this conclusion.
It started with a terrible attack of envy a couple of weeks before the event. A friend and colleague posted on social media about a tremendous milestone she had achieved. Her work is resonating with many and she has helped a lot of people. That’s what I have been trying to do for several years and she’s doing better than I am by all measures.
When I saw her post about it, I was in awe of her and then immediately felt myself go into a shame spiral. I started comparing my work to hers. I started having all kinds of thoughts like, “All my work is crap. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not focused enough. I don’t have the gifts and talents she has. I’m not helping anyone. I’m a total loser. I’m a failure.”
My rational mind knows that isn’t really true, but I had to reach out to my support network to process my feelings. Of course, I had to look at why I was comparing myself and what my motivations are for doing the work I do. I had to admit that a big part of my shame spiral comes from seeking external validation to feel good enough to be worthy of love.
Fuck, why does it always have to come back to this!?
It always comes back to this because that’s how my brain is hardwired. I didn’t get the nurturing, protection, and security I needed as a little girl, so I have been programmed to seek it outside myself. That’s what I’m working with.
My wish was that mom had been more protective and nurturing. I had been sexually abused as a young child. My mom saw it happening once and completely freaked out. I remember she got very angry with me and there was a lot of yelling. It was incredibly traumatizing. I believed that deep down, she hated me and that I was a bad person. The only way to get her approval was through achievement.
Mom didn’t know how to help me process my feelings, so I was left alone to deal with them and the conclusions I came to about my worth were extremely painful and detrimental to my identity. These painful experiences and misunderstandings of my value colored the lens through which I saw myself. They led to limiting and self-defeating patterns that I sometimes carry even today.
My brain’s internal default mode network had been set. This was the baseline to which I returned over and over again left to my own devices. Without the daily practice of mindfulness, active self-forgiveness, and self-compassion, I automatically revert back to old behavior patterns of over-achievement, then eventual collapse and burnout.
To add more context, I had a transformative experience about six months ago when my mother suddenly passed away from cancer, 22 days after her diagnosis.
After she died, I realized just how uniquely amazing she was. I loved my Mom and we did have a great relationship for many years, but there were always blocks inside me that prevented me from really seeing how great she was. I was holding onto anger and resentment about how she wasn’t who I needed her to be when I was little.
I miss my Mom. She was flawed, sure, but she was also so uniquely amazing. I’ve never met anyone who actively chose to be happy the way she did. Growing up she used to say to me “We all have the power of choice” but I didn’t understand what she meant. She meant that we have the power to choose what we focus on. What we wanted to feel, who we wanted to be and what we experienced. Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, we could come home to the pure self, the loveable self, the worthy self, with a simple shift of focus.
When I change my perspective and observe myself the way I now experience my Mom – thanks to the work I’ve done in my recovery to heal these past wounds and intergenerational trauma – this is where the idea of all the other versions of myself comes in. What if they are all crying out, “You are enough! Don’t wait until you die to see how uniquely amazing you are!” When I really let that feeling of internal validation be enough, I stop struggling with the never-ending list of tasks I need to achieve in order to feel content.
I keep coming back to the idea that there are limitless versions of me and they all see me the way I now see my Mom. I only care about the good parts of her. That’s what matters to me now. That is her gift to me. Since I can now see the truth about her, I can now see the truth about me and focus on the good that is within me.
That is how my internal validation junkie is getting healed, and I hope yours can be healed too.
Arlina Allen is the Host of the award winning podcast, The One Day At A Time Recovery Podcast. Arlina is also a SHE RECOVERS Coach and Certified Hypnotherapist. She helps women heal from trauma and improve self-esteem through group classes and 1:1 personalized coaching. Visit her website.
Taking steps to heal childhood trauma is difficult.
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