“Your Experiences Are Valid”

I’ve been doing a lot of mental and emotional cleaning along with the physical uncollecting and one of the most important parts of that has been my efforts to restore and reestablish the self-confidence I seemed to have lost over the last few years.  I can’t pinpoint one specific thing except to say that myriad events and people have chipped away at me over the years so now I go through stretches of time where i feel pretty worthless or useless.  I’m sure that there are a few people who could tell me that I’m actually not these things and I appreciate them telling me such, but the problem is that such reassurance doesn’t have its intended effect because deep down, I have convinced myself that anyone who compliments me isn’t sincere.

That started years ago, so it’s nothing I actually believe or is nothing personal against anyone else.  It’s just that this idea is ingrained and while there have been a number of times when I have acknowledged those feelings and issues, doing so has often made me feel worse, especially since I was taught that emotional issues were not a good look or that the position I was in and life I was leading eliminated any sense of legitimacy these issues might have had.  These were things we did not talk about or only whispered about so it would not reflect badly; my life was such that any emotional or mental issues came from a very self-serving place because they weren’t earned; or I was simply being dramatic, was too sensitive, and couldn’t take a joke.

Which is what i mean when I say that there was never any specific moment that I am responding to–it’s been a few decades of second guesses, “jokes” I “couldn’t take” and nicknames I shrugged at because I mistakenly thought it all meant that I was liked, that’s led to a sense of invalidation or inadequacy.  And that’s on top of our society’s toxic way of treating male feelings, where even to this day, I look at my anxieties and tell myself that maybe I should just suck it up.

I was recently listening to a podcast episode via Insight Timer, the app I use for daily meditation, and while it was mainly focused on how to acknowledge and change your habits, one of the hosts did say something that stuck with me:  “Your experiences are valid.”

I know that should not be mind-blowing or surprising in any way, but as I mentioned, I’m a guy who has been both consciously and unconsciously trained to believe that any mental pain I have or stress I’m going through doesn’t matter.  I never believed that I wasn’t have the feelings I was experiencing, but I always perceived they were illegitimate.  And I think that I am not alone in saying that this led to things like feeling angry or establishing bad habits like overeating and spending too much money. I’m not saying that the reason men drink or get angry or smoke or overeat is because they were never allowed to express their feelings, ut i certainly think some have done this.

Anyway, this is all to say that maybe we should look at uncollecting those habits and acknowledging what is beneath them.  I realize that not everyone out there is ready to do that and those who do might be unearthing some really heavy, dark stuff, but maybe for so many of us, it’s necessary.  And we can start by acknowledging that our experiences are valid.

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