Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

This excerpt is from Terese Marie Mailhot’s stunning memoir Heart Berries. Her style is aching and raw, highlighting the struggle of Canadian First Nations to find a place in a world that has tried to eradicate them. This line about external validation feels exceptionally poignant, both in the context of Mailhot’s story, and on a grander scale in terms of the place of women. I have always desired that everyone “like” me, I have never liked conflict, and it made my heart hurt to think that I may not be someone’s cup of tea. I wanted to impress people – my parents, my teachers, my friends, random humans at the grocery store, it didn’t matter – so that they would validate my worth and remind me that there was a place for me in the world. …

It has taken me to my mid-30s to even BEGIN to understand that my sense of self cannot depend on what other people tell me. I cannot ask my boss to always praise my work, as I am not 5 years old; I cannot ask my kids to tell me that I am the best mom in the world every five minutes, because it is not their role to make me feel self confident; I cannot ask my husband to list off the 10 things he likes best about me 16 times a day, because he has already told them to me over and over without prompting; I cannot expect my best friend to tell me every single day that I have value, because I should be able to see that in myself. Seeking external validation is the surest way to reach frustration and unhappiness, because the truth of the matter is that no one thinks about you nearly as much as you do, and they certainly are not there to reassure you at all times. …

Do you struggle with this? What measures have you taken to teach yourself to self-validate?

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