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  • Michaela Patel


What is validation and how much of it is needed for us to feel OK? Why do we seek acceptance from those we care about? And why do we sometimes push the people we love away?

Validation, in simple terms, is a confirmation that we are OK - acceptable. Our need to be accepted and loved is healthy providing that our expectations of how we want to be validated are healthy. We are social creatures, instinctively seeking to belong. Ensuring the survival of a group, we are driven to avoid being excluded from it.

A born child is perfect, as worthy as any other human being on this planet. In the course of time (thanks to his or her social and cultural conditioning), s/he learns to doubt her/himself. We experience multiple traumas, mostly unintentionally from those we love dearly in the form of not getting what we deserve. Which is how our need to feel accepted by those we care about is set off balance. As a result we develop a distorted view of how acceptable behaviour looks like.

Have you found yourself in abusive relationships? Have you experienced self-harm?

Abusing ourselves, or allowing others to abuse us, is a sign of low self-esteem. Our intrinsic value is approaching zero. Quite often we second guess ourselves, relying on others to show us that we are OK. That our behaviour, appearance, or achievements are adequate. We may become devoted followers of a fashion brand, religious sect, or a sports team. The more removed we are from our original self, the more obsessive our attempts to belong elsewhere. Our identity becomes centred on the outside of us, instead of within.

Which is how we get lost...

Imagine a highly sensitive child who was consistently shown that s/he is not OK, that her or his behaviour is unacceptable. Or a teenager who based on a daily comparison with his or her peers, a celebrity or anyone s/he looks up to, finds himself or herself odd and unacceptable. Such powerful, destructive beliefs nurture the feelings of not enoughness. Powered by frequent self-loathing, they eat away one's sense of worth in time.

When we get caught in this heart and soul destroying cycle, we develop further coping behaviours designed to soothe our pain. This maladaptation, however, only further cements our undeserving nature within our psyche. There comes a point that we are hurting immensely internally. We have come to believe that we are wholly unloveable. That which is hard to live with consciously, we then try to forget. By pushing it away into our subconscious we assume that it has no power over us any longer.

What lingers, however, is our fear that others might discover 'our truth'.

In order to hide our fear that we are somehow lacking, we master putting on a mask. We pretend that we are OK and get really good at not only hiding, but also not feeling our pain. Drinking in excess, holding parties, using recreational drugs, anything that helps us to tip the balance. Our levels of pain are rising and so does our appetite. We even seek to soothe our aching heart in a relationship. Foolishly believing that our partner can distract us from our pain...

We fall in love. We adore our partner as all his or her qualities add to our own. This is particularly true if we have little value for ourselves. All is well for some time, until one day their behaviour doesn’t match our 'picture of love'. We feel deeply betrayed and unloved. Because we lack an internal source of love and validation, we feel disregarded, ignored at times when we don't get their attention. We don't believe we belong and our future reactions only further validate our undeserving nature.

What we do as a result of someone pointing out our flaw in a constructive manner is a reflection of our self-esteem. We may get angry and defensive. We withdraw, or do one after the other with the only intention to punish. To tear down them and ourselves. The more we look up to others and care about their opinion, the more we tend to punish ourselves for failing...

Hurting greatly, it is almost impossible to see ourselves clearly. We are unable to see what it is that we have truly failed at.

  1. Firstly, as a result of hiding under a mask we have failed love by attracting a totally incompatible partner. People buy what they see. After all, we cannot be surprised when our mask slips others don’t like it. (Which applies to both parties after the honeymoon period is over BTW.) As a result of this misunderstanding we further confuse love with pain. Believing that love hurts crushes our trust in ever finding it.

  2. Secondly we have failed ourselves, big time and on two levels. On the surface, by pretending to be someone we are not (due to our fear of not being good enough for others). Our desire to be accepted by them has removed us further from who we are. In the depth of our soul, by believing in our inadequacy, we betrayed the truth. We betrayed our perfection the moment we started to compare our original to someone else’s...

How long have you been punishing yourself for being different?

Learning to accept you starts with noticing your self-comparison. Whenever you do, drop it immediately. You are on a unique journey after all! Remind yourself that it is OK to feel what you are feeling (emotional validation) even if you can make no sense of why. Remind yourself that you are uniquely beautiful (physical and mental validation). Re-define beauty as kindness to yourself as forgiveness to yourself for your past assumptions and compassion for others for their false opinions of you. Re-define perfection as honesty and courage to share your truth. Your inner compass can guide you correctly only if it is set to self-love and self-acceptance. How you feel about you, having a solid reference point of an internal validation, is important. Because no matter how much light you get from the outside, when your heart is filled with darkness, your fearful mind will lead your beautiful soul to scary places.

Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.

Copyright © 2020 Michaela Patel

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