Updated: Mar 7
If your true, underlying motivation for authentically recovering from an emotional disorder is to “prove” to somebody else that you no longer have an emotional disorder, then that in itself is proof that you still have an emotional disorder.
Incidentally, things like Borderline Personality Disorder are emotional disorders, not ‘personality’ disorders. (The problem is fundamentally emotional in nature, not ‘personality’ in nature.)
Emotional disorders - like Borderline Personality Disorder - naturally give birth to unhealthy concern about what other people think, believe, and so forth. This is because people with emotional disorders don’t perceive themselves or their feelings as having inherent value.
When a thing does not possess value of its own, where does any value it might enjoy have to come from?
External sources. More specifically, from what other people think.
Therefore, the unconscious thinking goes like this: “What I feel only has value if it makes sense to somebody else, or if somebody else agrees that what I’m feeling is the right feeling.” And, “My value as a person is directly proportional to how much other people value me.”
I’ll explain in a second how this ties into the original question. But first I want to tell you that the thinking I just described is profoundly unhealthy. The reality is that the value of our feelings, and the value that we ourselves possess as people does not work the same way as that of a car, or that of a house. There’s no secret Stockmarket out there elevating or lowering your value based on how many people are admiring you, or not admiring you, on any given day.
If nobody alive agreed with some feeling you are feeling, it wouldn’t make the feeling any less real or less relevant.
The feelings that human-beings experience just have value inherently as a tool we use to interact with life. (This does not mean that every single thing we feel is based on accurate thinking, only that it is valuable information.)
As people, we possess value inherently because of what we are. Value, or worth, is an inherent aspect of being a person.
As such, it doesn’t matter one iota how many accomplishments you have achieved in life, or how much money you have, or how good your hair looks or doesn’t look, or how many people admire that shirt you’re wearing. Human value is not rooted in these things. These elements are all external in nature. Human value is not rooted in what other people think.
Again, human value is inherent in nature. It is based on what you are, not on what you do that other people might admire or not admire.
Problems arise when people unconsciously fail to understand this very subtle, but extremely powerful reality.
If I don’t believe that my value as a person is inherent to being a person, for example, this means that any sense of value I will ever get to experience has to come from external sources. In other words, it is dependent on whatever I imagine other people think.
This sort of unconscious belief system forms the very foundation of all of the symptoms that people with emotional disorders experience, you see?
Therefore, if somebody who is interested in ridding themselves of an emotional disorder is worrying about what other people think when it comes to progress in recovery, or being partially motivated by their desires for other people to acknowledge their progress, you can see how this thinking is being born from the very same fundamental issues creating their disorder in the first place. In which case, they haven’t made as much progress as they would probably like to believe, and they’re in danger of straying from the road to authentic recovery.
What sort of motivation would indicate that a person is truly on the road to authentic recovery?
Well, let me ask you this: What sort of motivation would a person who is paralyzed have for wanting to walk again? Would that person’s motivation be in any way rooted in what he or she imagines other people want or think?
How about a cancer patient? Is his or her efforts to be cancer-free based on whether others want it or not?
A person who is genuinely on the road to authentic recovery is being motivated by not wanting to be unhealthy anymore, period.
The important thing to keep yourself in check about is this: Who are you doing this work for?
If you’re truly doing it for yourself, who is the only person who has to be convinced of anything?
Yes, it’s nice when people recognize real changes we’ve experienced. But if others are going recognize it, it will only happen after a lot of time and consistency. In the meantime, a person being motivated properly will not worry about whether other people have accepted the changes they are experiencing or not, because the reward is in the changes happening, not in other people's acknowledgment of anything.
My daughter used to tell others how great of an artist she is, and I pulled her aside:
“Honey, you are a fantastic artist. But you must never say this. Let your work speak for itself. If anybody speaks a compliment about your abilities, it must only be spoken by others, and by their own initiative. The truth of your abilities will speak for itself.”
The same rule applies to authentic recovery.