We have a need for social acceptance, but some people have a need that's almost like a compulsion. These people absolutely must prove themselves worthy. They often fail. Even when they succeed, they can't appreciate it - they did it for someone else, who usually fails to acknowledge it, if they even notice.
If you're one of these people, think about your deep-down reason for wanting so much to prove yourself. It might be...
• You're living someone else's dream. Don't you have your own? So you care deeply for someone who is incapable of fulfilling their own dreams. That's sad for them, but have you considered that doing it for them might make them even more aware of their own inability?
• You compare yourself to others and always find yourself lacking. Cupcake, there will always be someone smarter, better looking, in better shape, more qualified, or whatever. You can't make yourself someone else's perfect. Compare yourself to yourself. That's the only way to know if you're growing.
• You measure yourself against an impossible standard. Somebody climbed Mt. Everest, so you should, too. Somebody swam the English Channel, so you should, too. Somebody increased their net worth by a billion dollars, so you should, too. Goals are great, but only when they're realistic for you.
• You're so starved for attention that you sell out for any kind of recognition. Seriously? Forget the Klondike Bar, what would you do to be noticed by __(insert name of important person here)__ ? Up your standards and you'll get more recognition. And attention. The good kind.
• It's a competition. Maybe a grudge match, maybe sibling rivalry gone wrong. Who cares? As long as the boss/mommy/teacher/cute neighbor notices, you'll push yourself relentlessly to beat the competition. But have you watched presidential debates? Brutal competitive tendencies don't bring out the best in people and bosses notice that. Mommies love their children equally, just differently. The teacher knows who does well and who doesn't, without you being obnoxious. And just because the neighbor notices doesn't mean you're the right type.
Whatever your reason is, remember: you try to prove yourself to gain some kind of social approval. Social approval equates to some amount of power. But your level of need gives all the power to others, to either approve of you or not. How's that working for you so far?
Empower yourself. Make your own decisions about what's important to you, set your own goals around your own values, give yourself credit. One really cool side effect is that you'll build your own self-confidence. And with that, you'll find you don't need to prove yourself to others nearly as much.
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