Today we move from the Life Trap of Abandonment to Recognition-seeking and see how it affects me. As we go further in this journey, we start to see that the emotional locks and chains inside me are truly a legion, and it will take some serious work to get them to resolve.
A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Recognition-seeking:
It is important to me that EVERYONE likes me, even if I don’t like them. I will please others to get their praise and acceptance, and for this goal, I will also avoid conflict and try not to offend people.
The opinions of others affect me greatly, to the point where I will make decisions based on whether or not someone else would accept it. I am afraid that people won’t like me and will leave me alone if I start doing things my way, and I make goals for myself based on what other people expect of me.
When I’m put in a group I try my best to fit in, and as a Borderline person, I am good at being a chameleon. I am different around different people, and I avoid places or situations where I don’t feel accepted.
I don’t bring forth my true feelings, opinions, or hopes, I am afraid of being rejected, cast out. This is even more true for negative things such as disappointment, hurt, and anger. I will change myself, on the surface and in my behavior, based on what I think the people will find more acceptable.
When I compensate for this Life Trap I may spout out extreme opinions and use unorthodox means to get my point across. I may test people’s acceptance by pushing the limits and causing disapproval. In this mode, I want to believe that other’s opinions and acceptance bear no meaning to me.
I make an effort in order to make people recognize me. Success, achievements, status, wealth, beauty, all this for someone else’s admiration. It is hard for me to value myself as I am, and so I use others to measure it for me.
Being a Borderline-Chameleon, fearing abandonment, this Life Trap feels like my second nature.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve got anxious or felt judged, and in return started to be snappy to my husband. It might be a PVP (player vs player) arena in a game, nobody is even saying anything, but because I am waiting for my husband to come back to life I feel like the biggest douche there is: I should be out there, with the group, not waiting for one player! Or maybe we were in a store, being lovey and sweet, yet I start feeling people’s eyes on me, this behavior is not proper!
For years (pretty much all my life until I got married), I did things the way people wanted me to do them.
I was good at school, did my best in swimming practice, pleased the people around me till my fingers bled, and even changed who I am for them. I even gave up writing for a while because one of my past friends told me that he didn’t like it that I spent more time with my texts than with him.
All of this culminated into a fallout when I told my friends at the time that I will no longer be their slave in games or in life. What I feared came true, people left, though with more of a bang than I expected.
I am glad that happened though, I got freed of that toxicity and started over.
When my husband was still courting me (as in he had decided that I’m his wife and that’s it, bless him), he was very clear with what he wanted and needed from a wife. And I agreed to marry him. Not because I thought he wouldn’t like me or he would abandon me, but because what he was offering seemed like a place that I could live out my days in peace. And so, since that day, I’ve been practicing super hard to let go of this notion that everyone HAS TO like me.
I don’t have to be liked by anyone other than myself. It is hard sometimes, and often the society with its pressures gets to me and I forget that I chose to be with my husband, not with the rest of the world. This whole marriage thing has been a huge hurdle of slaps and stones being tossed at us, but I’m glad I went through it.
For ages I used other people, going around asking “Is this ok?” and “Did I do good?” for every little thing in my life. And boy did I do that with the wrong people. When your mentality is that everyone must like you, and you are stuck with people that WILL abuse you and your mental health for their benefit, that becomes a prison, a hell to live in.
Unfortunately, I have woken up and realized that some of the people in my past definitely used this aspect of me, keeping me chained up.
They knew I was petrified of being left alone and would do anything to avoid it, yet they still chose to use fear tactics on me or praised me mostly when they wanted something from me.
And others, well, others just think they can impose their ‘superiority’ on me just because they are older, further in life, or just otherwise right without any solid logic behind it. It must’ve been a shock to most of the people in my life when I changed and started to trash in my chains. Enough is enough.
I was so good at hiding my emotions and opinions that my mother, whom I love dearly, did not realize that I had been cutting myself for years while I lived under her roof. Why I hid it? I didn’t want to be more of a burden, seeing as I already felt like the biggest mistake in all of human history. There was no need for her to have to deal with it.
I hid that the bullies at school really got to me and that it scarred me for life. I played by the book in my past relationships, I needed them and their friends and family to be accepting of me, to feel like I had value.
My opinions were the extreme opposite sometimes. I hated humans as a species, I hated myself for being alive, I hated everything and everyone. And the more I fixed other people’s issues and relationships, the more I slaved for them, the more I ended up hating them and myself.
I wonder what happened, that made me feel like I have to do that to myself.
The book tells us that when the Life Trap of Recognition-seeking resolves, we can be more ourselves and dare to act in accordance with our natural inclinations. We will be able to make decisions based on our own thoughts rather than pleasing other people, placing less focus on the signs of success on the outside.
I’m happy to inform you that I am well on my way to resolving this one!
While I still battle with wanting all of society like me, and it hurts when my family or relatives disapprove of me and my actions, I started to think more about my own happiness. Because after all, it’s not my job or duty to please anyone but myself and, since I married, my husband. To make us happy.
Everyone is responsible for their own life and if you are the kind of person that thinks it’s your right to judge and try to change other people and how they gain happiness and contentment in life, you need a long hard look in the mirror ‘cause, in my experience, there is something fundamentally wrong in your own life.
Has this Life Trap been hindering you in your life? Let me know in the comments below!
Want to know more about life with Borderline Personality Disorder? Sign up for the weekly news-letter!
2 thoughts on “Life Traps | Pt. 6: Recognition-seeking”
WOW POWERFUL and TRUE, I people pleased with friends and family until I lost myself. I changed into a so many people to please this person and that. I was drained and tired in doing that. I wasn’t doing anything for myself and I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror because who was I?
IKR, it is a tiresome path to go down. With me, it also hits harder because of the whole fear of abandonment and the feeling of not ever being enough.