I believe that much of the dysfunction that pervades our lives is a result of lies that have been perpetuated by society for untold amounts of time. As an overly introspective person, I tend to keep most of my thoughts and perspectives to myself. And besides, everything doesn’t deserve a place on the Internet. *shrug* However, several observations over the last few months have ignited a small fire in my soul thus moving me to speak on something I deem as pure shenanigans! I’m almost mad at myself for accepting this as truth.
How many times have you heard someone say that you shouldn’t look to someone else to validate you? It’s a commonly shared piece of advice in personal and professional discussions. I do agree with at least three tenets of that argument – 1) your happiness is your choice 2) sometimes you must encourage yourself and 3) you must recognize your worth before expecting someone else to. But, there are also some gaps in this perspective that I think have been lost in translation and hampered our ability to build and contribute to effective, meaningful relationships. Here’s why –
In some (not all) cases, we typically desire validation from the people we care about. Does that mean that we’re obligated to agree on everything or that it’s okay to base decisions on what others think? No. But, in a relationship that’s built on authenticity, we can show up authentically and should have the expectation (yes, we should!) that we’re being heard. BREAKING NEWS: people don’t always seek validation because they’re lacking self-worth. They’re likely pursuing the intimacy that comes with understanding and presence. Translation: I’m human, and I want to be accepted. That’s a post for another day though.
Secondly, we might need to reevaluate someone’s place in our life if we don’t have any evidence to show that this person is supportive. What kind of ideals are we propagating for future generations if we’re teaching them that it’s okay to not desire subtle or even sometimes bold affirmation by other humans? I think this can come in different forms, but it’s important that we leave ourselves room to tell people through words and actions that we value their existence, that they did a good job, that their small steps toward a big goal are monumental, and that it’s okay to express our feelings and sit with them for a while with the people we trust. By doing this, we are communicating that we are available and we value the opportunity for this exchange. Translation: I am present for you, and it’s okay to be vulnerable.
The point is that we all need each other. And I believe it is our responsibility to validate each other if we want to be the best versions of ourselves. I’m tired of us pretending like we don’t have emotions and rationalizing that we’re less than great if we seek to be understood or want to be recognized. I get that there are levels to this, and I’m only hitting the surface. Hell, I can even admit that I don’t appropriately validate others the majority of the time. I see posting this as a step in the right direction to undo how I’ve chosen to interact in my own relationships.
We’re killing ourselves by ignoring our emotions and legitimate desire to be connected. Instead of operating in a place of aversion and silence by choosing not to expect validation by others, I propose that we all demand it. Perhaps then we wouldn’t continue living as though it’s every woman or man for her/himself out here in this lukewarm world. We may come in and go out of this life alone, but we don’t make it through without someone else acknowledging that they see us.