It can be hard to turn off this need to have an external source value us if that's what we know. And in the world we have created, that's what most of us know. In the days of monasteries, religious people turned to God for proof of their worth. But for them, God was as much "out there" as "inside" so they understood that there wasn't a human being on the planet who could determine how they measured up but rather a divine source both within and all around them.
For most of us, unless we are taught otherwise, our sense of self and our value as a person starts with the messages we receive in childhood and are built upon as we progress through school, recreational activities, clubs, groups and eventually the interactions we have as adults, both young and old. Sometimes we get so used to others reflecting back to us that we forget to make our own decisions about our merit. Sometimes we adopt these beliefs about ourselves and frequently can't even remember where they came from. It happened to me yesterday as I took my daily walk and tried to figure out exactly who it was that told me that I'd never do anything that really mattered. I'd had that notion racing around in my mind after bumping into some resistance on a project. So I did what works - I went for a walk and talked to myself. I tried to pinpoint a time when I wanted to do things and got "shut down". There were some spotty early memories along with the realization that I was always trying something new, something bold, something adventurous. I wasn't afraid to reinvent or launch into things and I'm still not. But all this bravado is fuel for my inner critic who has been quietly (well, not always) piling up evidence of my shortcomings.
When I ask people why they don't follow their dreams or even just their impulses there is always some belief about themselves that they can reference and of course it is limiting. There is always some past failure or admonishment from someone that they immediately retrieve from their internal library. I love solving mysteries so I was really intent on reaching back into my past to figure this one out. What I learned yesterday was that while it is deeply empowering to be able to dissect the root cause, I was spending a lot of time digging up the past while the present moment was slipping away. And what I know about myself NOW matters most. I know that some things I do or try, will work. Some won't. I know that sometimes I push through resistance no matter what anyone (including my inner saboteur) says and sometimes I stop when I'm doubted. I know that sometimes I am like a dog with a bone who refuses to stop when everyone else has given up and sometimes I'm the first to throw in the towel. And I know that sometimes, I do things that really, really matter.
It's all part of growing into myself, accepting myself and facing forward.