First things first, I want to remind you that this coming Monday, May 3rd, is when the nomination period opens for the Festival South Best of the Pine Belt. Just go to hubcityspokes.com and you’ll find the link to nominate your favorite businesses and professionals. It is truly a special way to celebrate the things that make the Pine Belt special and provide some well-deserved validation to our local business owners.
Validation. It’s something that most everyone wants and understands. We all innately know how it feels when we are validated, right? And that we crave it, like oxygen. Unfortunately, it’s often because we feel just the opposite: judged, ignored, invisible. We want to feel as though we are enough, we’re adequate, we’re acceptable. It’s hard because many of us lack those feelings within ourselves. Since we struggle to believe in our own self-worth, we lack the capacity for self-validation. And what we can’t or don’t find within, we seek from others, sometimes almost desperately. And that’s where our problems begin.
Validation, in a nutshell, is a feeling of acknowledgement. That we exist, have value, are worthy of being heard. That our ideas and feelings have merit. For some, validation extends beyond that, and it is a feeling as though we have made a difference, made an impact. Perhaps it’s confirmation from some external source that we will leave our own mark on this world of ours.
When I think of external validation, I think of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how George Bailey needed external reassurance that his life was not a failure. That he had indeed lived an impactful life and that he had made a difference. Unfortunately, none of us have a guardian angel named Clarence to help us find the way! So, we need to muddle through this on our own. When we seek validation, we are not looking for agreement from others; we’re not asking others to tell us we are correct, or brilliant, or revolutionary. What we hope for and seek out is just confirmation that they hear us, and what we’ve shared, or felt, or said is valuable and understood in some way, shape, or form.
As mentioned above, we tend to look outside ourselves for validation because we lack confidence. There are a variety of schools of thought regarding why some of us lack a healthy self-validating mindset. Some believe it is rooted in our childhoods. Many of us were the recipients of conditional love, contingent on approval or certain behaviors or accomplishments. Others believe there may be a tie to poor self-esteem, anxiety, or other mental disorder. Those who lack self-validation tend to struggle to develop a strong sense of self and of their own identity. They may not be sure who they really are, or even who they want to be – short of being someone who others approve of. It’s easy to see that our ability to validate ourselves, internally, is key to happiness and contentment. If we live our lives seeking the validation and approval of others, it’s very difficult to live an authentic, transparent life. And without authenticity, intimacy becomes close to impossible. And intimacy is essential to healthy relationships. So there you have it – we’ve got to try to get this self-validation thing working for us!
Christina Pierce is the publisher of The Pine Belt News and Signature Magazine.