Validation is what builds the foundations of our self worth.
We as humans seek validation from others in the form praise, love, touch, gifts, words of affirmation and acceptance or inclusion.
How we learn to receive this validation starts in our childhood from our parents, siblings or childhood friends and teachers.
Validation can be Positive or Negative.
Positive validation lifts us up, makes us feel wanted, loved and included. It might sound like praise, feel like a hug or look like a member of the group.
Whilst negative validation brings us down, making us feel unworthy, unloved and unaccepted. It might sound like an insult, feel like discipline or look like rejection from a group.
Validation can be External or Internal.
External validation verses Internal validation
External validation is the act of seeking validation from others.
External validation is a learned behaviour that involves a complicated and somewhat manipulative way of thinking, acting, speaking, dressing and being in the world in order to fit in and be accepted and praised.
External validation is Disempowering
These behaviours are reinforced again and again when we receive positive validation from others. Over time we learn to modify our behaviours to reflect how we assume each person would like us to behave in order to keep receiving their validation.
Each subtle experience in validation either a positive experience like being surrounded by friends or a negative experience like being rejected from a game creates the nuanced and complex behavioural patterns that we use to manipulate the world around us in order to feel validated by others.
Did you ever do something to please your parents in order to receive their love and admiration?
Did you ever feel trepidation at bringing home a bad report card because you knew your parents would be upset with you?
The problem with any sort of external validation is that there is never enough.
It feels finite.
We need to be constantly reminded that we are loved, that we are doing a good job, still a valuable employee, still an asset to the company or worthy of a greater raise.
We always want more.
More love, more success, more acceptance and inclusion etc and the moment this external validation stops or changes our self worth is directly affected.
We start to question what did I do wrong? Why didn't they invite me?, Why did they get a raise and I didn't?
Am I not lovable, am I not smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough and on and on it goes.
In relationships people who rely solely on external validation tend to have an unhealthy co-dependence on others, can be seen as needy, clingy or suffocating, insecure and lack self confidence.
So what's the answer then?
Learn to give yourself what you seek from others.
Internal Validation is Empowering
The first step to understanding internal validation is the self awareness to notice when and how we resort to external validation in our lives - this allows us to understand where we need to employ internal validation from now on.
Internal validation can also be learned and practised.
There are many ways to rebuild self confidence using internal validation and these internal foundations will be far more resilient, adaptable and emotionally stronger than if they were built on external validation.
Over time you will learn that you don't need to consult others to make a decision, because you trust your own inner judgement.
You can recognise when you gave it your best and you will know what your best is worth, so asking for that pay rise will be warranted and easily justifiable.
You will learn to discern who is worthy to be in your life and who is not.
Your self esteem will increase as you learn to trust yourself in any situation, because you do have something to share and you are worthy of a seat at the table.
Your self confidence will increase as you feel internally supported, that your inner critic has become your inner supporter, you reward every try and lift yourself up after every fall.
And the best thing about building your emotional intelligence system on internal validation is you will come to realise that you can do anything you want because nothing or no one is holding you back.