We all want to be a ‘valid person’. But most of us have some little (or large) secret insecurities. These can make us nervous about being ourselves. So there is a human tendency to seek validation from others. Comedians seek laughter. Actors seek applause. Craftsmen seek appreciation. And so on.
I think for most of us this seeking of validation starts when we are small. Do we fit in? Are we popular? Or are we on the edge of the crowd? Are we sometimes shunned?
I remember when I was at primary school and we’d have a medical check. When they did the hearing test I tried really hard to hear the quietest sounds. I was always hoping the nurse would say, ‘You have incredible hearing. I think you’re unique.’ I hope she’d tell others and officials would come and visit me at school and say, ‘Your hearing ability is so amazing, the Prime Minister wants to meet you.’
Needless to say that never happened.
But seeking validation can be very dangerous. Sometimes we give the power of validation to the wrong person – the overbearing parent, the judgemental friend, the unsupportive spouse.
And that’s what we need to understand – we hold the power of our own validation and we choose who to give it to. Be careful.
Many men suffer because they gave the power of validation to their father but he never validated them, never said well done.
In Paul Merton’s autobiography he tells how he sought his Father’s approval but it never came… until his Father was dying. At the last moment in the hospital he tells him how proud he has been of him. After his death, when the family are clearing his Father’s house, they find a scrapbook with every newspaper article about Paul Merton. His Father had been a secret admirer all along.
Many men and women give the power of validation to one parent or other and sometimes the approval never comes.
In some ways we are all seeking a mini-validation by getting the thumbs up ‘like’ on Facebook, or the favourite star – or even better a RT – on Twitter. I’m hoping for a few on this article! But if not, I’m not bothered.
I sometimes get people giving me the benefit of their opinion on my life or work. Here’s a news flash for them all – I haven’t given you the power to validate or invalidate me.
I choose to let history / God / the Universe validate me or not.
The group of people that irritates me the most is those who think they are something special when they’re just like the rest of us. They assume that their opinion is of more value than mine. They spout their opinion as though it was an inarguable fact, when it is just an opinion.
People told me I couldn’t go to the Third-World to help the poor. People told me I couldn’t write a book. They told me I couldn’t start a Charity, or buy my own house.
So I did.
Be careful of those who try to hold you back. They may be trying to keep you down in order to lift themselves up.
You have the power to validate yourself.
While it is always helpful to have a few wise counsellors around you, you need to be true to yourself.
We are all looking for someone to believe in us but be very careful about letting others validate you, because one day they may decide to invalidate you.
You are unique.
Go and be amazing today!
There is a lot wrong with the world – that’s true. There have been a lot of wrong things in my life, things that really hurt me, not least the loss of three family members back in the 1980s. That is also true.
For the last twenty years, a big part of my work has been helping adults and children in Rwanda recover from the horrors of genocide. I’ve seen some horrors in that country in the aftermath of the killing.
BUT… and it is a big BUT!
There is a lot we can be grateful for in the world. It doesn’t deny the injustice or the suffering in the world, but it does help.
Here’s the thing:
One of the steps of my own personal healing has been to learn to be intentionally grateful and thankful. I’ve spent years being depressed by what I lost. But I can’t change the past. By focussing on what we no longer have, we often miss the many things we do have.
Something happens when we give thanks for good stuff – it enriches our lives and releases joy in our spirit.
Over the next seven days, I am going to write down something I am thankful for each day.
We may have moments when something good happens that we are grateful for. But I am talking about being intentionally grateful, everyday.
If you woke up in a bad mood today – give thanks that you woke up today. Not everyone did…
If we want to build our gratitude muscle we have to nurture an attitude of gratitude by listing the things we are thankful for each day. As it gets stronger, it will bring us joy and happiness.
I once heard about a man called Tom who was always thankful. When he had an accident and broke his arm, his friend commiserated with him about his broken limb. But Tom said it was the best broken arm he had ever had!
Perhaps that is a little extreme but here is a short video to get you started.
What are you thankful for today?