As with so many concepts in this theory, we have to distinguish two different aspects of ‘acknowledgment.’ One is harmless and one is detrimental to the Real Self. The harmless part of acknowledgment is the part that stays pretty much on our psycho-emotional surface and is related to our daily ‘ Quality-of-Life .’ It is a pleasant confirmation from someone else of who we already know we are or what we already know we did well. It provokes a smile on our face when we are being complimented. We or what we did have been noticed by others, and they were pleased by it; we have helped them in some way or other.
So I am speaking about ‘Quality of Life-‘ acknowledgment. It is not dangerous to our well-being in any way; it has little impact; it enhances the quality with which we experience our daily life, but we would have been fine without it as well.
For people who due to lack of proper regard as being a ‘real person’ in early childhood (See Mirroring) now have a Lack of Natural Sense of Self, acknowledgment can be experienced as a Substitute Sense of Self and that is a totally different matter. When we take in acknowledgment in that way, it strikes deep down in the core of our being where it fills a gigantic hole.
We can compare this situation metaphorically to when a deep hole comes into contact with a level of water that is way above its own surface. Once the contact with the water is established, the water gushes into the hole with a primal force; there is no ‘managing’ of the situation possible. For the water to fill up that hollow space in the hole is a natural process; there is a ‘law of communicating vessels’ (Stevin’s law) that explains this phenomenon.
The same happens in a person with a deep need for recognition, for being acknowledged as a valuable person, from being deprived of this rightful and natural recognition during the critical period for development of a Natural Sense of Self in infancy. The effect of the natural Black Hole and of the human organism’s tendency toward seeking or generating homeostasis is that any positive treatment or positive confirmation, any compliment or acknowledgment of work done, is soaked up by the starved Self like water into a dry sponge and is drawn in with a desperate eagerness.
The compliments or positive observations trigger or reinforce the Substitute Sense of Self. However, this all happens subconsciously, and is often unavailable to the conscious mind who might deny any suggestion that this is going on. Yet for me, in my state of dependency on a Substitute Sense of Self for my Self-experience, ‘acknowledgment’ was the ultimate thing I longed for. It used to be the only goal I would work and live for – and when it is offered, there is no way to say NO! Approval, and through that approval acknowledgment was implied.
Now here is the secret. The Quality of Life effect of the acknowledgment is OK. You can take that in and rejoice in it; however the Substitute Sense of Self-oriented effect needs to be recognized and rejected, in the process of Recovering LINK from the unhealthy Substitute-Sense–of-Self-oriented System. After all ‘acknowledgment’ is a ‘Hidden Agenda or Goals‘ which in the absence of the parent or caregiver is internally validated by the person herself, and translated into a ‘Feel Good About Self‘ that serves as a Substitute Sense of Self.
The translation into the Substitute Sense of Self turns a situation which could have been fully unhealthy, into an unhealthy one. It co-opts or perverts the good stuff into harmful stuff. Even if the action was begun in a mode of Direct Motivation, the Black Hole sucks it into the unhealthy System and turns the initially healthy way the acknowledgment was earned, into a vehicle, thus changing the (healthy) Direct Motivation of the initial action or achievement into Indirect Motivation. The need of the hungry Black Hole is always lurking, as are the habitual neuro-pathways. It is a Recovery challenge, to learn to bypass those at the moments of receiving acknowledgment.
But I urge you to be like me: never give up. Have compassion for yourself. In my case, this situation of getting acknowledgment ends up with me getting an ‘eye-migraine’ as the tension/stress for the brain to deal with potential hindrances/obstacles to the almost-achieved Substitute Sense of Self causes an physiological overload. For me it is a signal that I have relapsed, and that I need to sit down and recover. I then need to do some exercises like ‘sensing my body, sensing my legs’. The eye-migraine to me is a signal I have to reinstall my ‘Real Self‘ and follow my own life’s path again, as opposed to being the slave of my Substitute-Sense–of-Self-oriented System.
When I get an eye-migraine and realize that means I have ‘fallen off the wagon’ of breaking my addiction to the Substitute Sense of Self, I feel anger, sadness and hopelessness. The anger is mostly Substitute Sense of Self-oriented because deep down I don’t want to give up my Substitute Sense of Self just as I was about to get to a good experience of it (addiction and denial). Sadness because I am ‘creating trouble’ again and ‘not creating trouble’ was one of my Ego-References. Hopelessness because I realize I will once more have to stop whatever I am doing and spend considerable time on managing my self in order to get back on the right track.
But at least I know what is going on. The honesty and clarity make me feel good, and empowered! I just need stamina, and to kick myself in the butt (compassionately!) and try again. My true life’s path is the one I am treading and I am able to walk it, every time, a little longer….