“Approval is a lover who will always break your heart.”- SAMMY RHODES
Last year I had a broken heart. It was the product of years of living for other people, for approval, for external validation.
My name is Kathy and I am a people-pleasing-gold-star-validation seeker.
Validation is a tricky thing. We all seek it to some degree. When we are children we seek it from our parents. When we aren’t given enough, we develop defense mechanisms that shape all future relationships. In school, we seek validation from our teachers and peers. Bosses at work, commanders in the military, neighbors, soccer moms, social media “likes”…. we’re all seeking an external approval of our internal lives.
“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”
— Warren Buffett
We as humans have a deep-seated need for connection—regardless of our age, gender, or background. (Yes, men need it just as much as women). We need to feel heard, understood, and appreciated; and that feeling comes—in large part—from validation.
But what happens when we take it too far – when we seek it only from outside sources and stop validating ourselves or worse – never learn how to be our own cheerleader?
There is a hashtag trending on twitter.
#Please A Woman In 5 Words
I was drawn to communications as a profession in college because I love words. Words are my love language, the way to my heart, the avenue in which I seek validation.
The “5 words to please a woman” for me would be this:
You are enough for me.
Here’s the lesson I’m learning and am reinforcing through prayer and reflection:
I am enough. I’m enough right now, just as I am.
I’m enough as a partner/teammate, as a daughter, as a mom. I’m enough as a business woman, as a leader, a model- err former model, as a friend. I am enough at a size 2 or 4 or 100.
What happens if you don’t feel enough? How do we make the transition from outward to inward validation?
The Creative Director of Branch, in a blog post a few years ago, listed 5 tools to implement. The goal is to progress from seeking external validation to pursuing internal validation and on towards emotional and mental wholeness. I paraphrased here:
1. Examine what’s going on in your own world
This is pretty simple: when you’re fixated on something, ask yourself why. Remember, it’s never really about them. It’s all about you and your projections. It’s how you feel about yourself.
I’m learning how to be. Just be. Not “be” based on someone else’s emotions or someone else’s view of me. “Be” based on who I know I am and who God expects me to be. Ultimately, that relationship is the only one that matters.
2. Extreme curation isn’t real life
Everyone has problems. Everyone has bad days. This is common sense but when you’re scrolling through a highlight reel of their best moments, it’s easy to forget. Nobody wants to share the dirty details of getting fired, getting into fights, bad friendship fall-outs, divorce…it’s personal and it’s not pretty.
Last year I went through a tough time. I was modeling Europe, doing very well, landing big campaigns and feeling very, very lonely. So I stopped eating. I became frail and unhealthy. I made my mother cry. I never shared that on social media. No one is immune to suffering. It just comes in various waves and packaging.
3. Realign negative energy to fuel a positive outcome
Be an encourager. Be a validator.
To the single parents – you are enough. To the stay at home parents, the working parents, to the married couples and the single people, to the executive facing retirement, to the parents facing an empty nest, to the caretakers of sick and elderly, to the wounded in body, mind or spirit,
4. Detox by unfollowing
Unfollow, once and for all. Forgot about it and move on. You have a limited amount of time on this planet so make the most of it. Get rid of pictures, emails and text. They hold energy. Cleanse yourself. Free yourself.
5. Immerse yourself in time with those that really matter
Find the joy-givers. The peace-makers. The world-changers.
Let go. You don’t need a gold star.
Embrace you. Give yourself a gold star.
Trust God. Rely on Him as your gold star.
Love extravagantly. Give gold stars like glitter to the world.
You Are Enough For Me.
“Once we realize that the wish for love and approval is a universal motivator, we can begin to dance with the flow of love by helping others to meet that need through their connections with us. And as we help others to meet those needs by being with us, the positive flow of giving Love comes back to us.”- PERRY WOOD, Secrets of the People Whisperer