This Youtube video posted by filmmaker Kurt Kuenne always reminds me of how validation can lift somebody’s spirits if it’s truly heartfelt:
Validation can be “gathered” in various ways and comes in various degrees of subtlety, from receiving an award, to accepting someone’s compliment that they like your haircut, to merely having another person smile at you.
As a personal example, I sometimes find myself posting something on Facebook with a sense of anticipation around who will Like the post. Even getting one Like feels good, and getting 20 or 50 feels even better.
But, perhaps it would be more flexible and adaptive to be be able to generate an experience of self-validation from within, especially if there are not others around (online or in-person) to supply that validation.
What do you do in your day-to-day life, if anything, to get your validation? Do you feel that you’re getting as much validation as you would like to get? Where would you like more validation? And when does the search for validation become maladaptive?
Sweet video, Clark. It reminded me of the value of sharing appreciations with others. We are so conditioned to inhibit sharing positive regard, compliments, etc. We can feel pretty shy or uncomfortable when it comes to both giving and receiving compliments, which is one type of validation as you noted. I particularly enjoyed how the main character in the short was so free in his giving.
As humans we’re social creatures, albeit some more than others, relatively speaking. Accordingly, we all need to be seen and heard (at least to some extent), but like you mentioned, this needs to be balanced with finding validation from within. I certainly find validation through all the examples you provided, but I try not to take external validation too seriously (which is, of course, easier said than done 🙂 and instead, focus my efforts in two areas noted below (particularly when I’m noticing a pull toward wanting some type of validation):
1.) Connecting with others: I feel like as humans we want connection, which runs deeper than validation. We suffer more when feeling a sense of isolation. I find that a lot of the need for some type of validation falls away when connection takes place, whether in-person, via phone, online, etc.
2.) I try to re-orient to a “place” in myself where I feel inspired, passionate, energized, etc.: I find that when I can tap into that place of inspiration and engagement, then the need for external validation really diminishes.
I remember Dr. Wayne Dyer saying something along the lines of how he gets as much validation as he needs from a tree (can’t remember the exact quote). I’m not quite there, but I did appreciate his sentiment of continually coming back to oneself (or a spiritual connection that feels greater than oneself), when it comes to desire for validation or approval.
Finding validation from within is a beautiful and kind endeavor. I liked your two suggestions too: connection and tapping into that place of inspiration.
After reading what you wrote about getting a sufficient amount of validation from a tree, a contrasting quote from Mark Twain came to mind:
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Although he hilariously suggests ignoring food and water – an impossibility – I get what he’s saying and I think there’s a lot of truth in it. As I get more clinical experience, I increasingly believe that humans really need validation in order to feel good about him/herself and psychologically grow.
Another thought: despite the value placed on self-sufficiency (at least in the culture I grew up in) I believe that learning to self-validate must originally be taught by others, somehow.
In the week ahead I will try to tap into that place of inspiration!
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