What achievements give you confidence and validation?
Did you get praise for your athleticism, intellectualism or academic results?
Or did you get praise for how you looked, behaved or played?
Or no praise at all?
Validation of your achievements is one of the core needs of humans to live a fulfilling life. It is the need to feel significant. We all want to have that feeling of being important, being recognised or being worthy. Unfortunately, many of us are starved of this need. So we go and try to meet it unresourcefully through addictions, drama, being a martyr, victimhood, blame and gossip.
How we meet this need can determine the level of our happiness or ability to feel self-worth.
Significance is how we perceive we are seen as important in the world, how we are validated for who we are. We can share certain things with others because we want to be validated or have this need fulfilled. Over sharers are doing this because of this reason, which is why they are trying to get significance.
The other thing is that you can share something with someone and they dismiss it or gloss over it. By them doing this you are not feeling validated or acknowledged and this feels pretty crappy. If you are with someone and they share something important then acknowledge them, give them their significance of their achievement. Do not dismiss it. This will not only make their day but make you be a giver of significance which feels awesome (although it has to be genuine as people can pick up any fakeness in a second).
It is also important to acknowledge your own achievements from within. I ask my clients after a session “how would you like to acknowledge yourself?” I love it when they start to build that muscle of validating themselves for their growth, their determination, and their ability to open up. Whatever it is they get the confidence to be able to validate from within.
Likewise, if someone congratulates you or gives you a compliment take it cleanly. In this I mean, say thank you, do not make excuses. If someone says to you ‘oh you look lovely in that dress tonight’ do not go ‘it’s just an old one I found in the back of the cupboard, some cheap thing I got from the local store’. This is dismissive and they feel like their compliment did not matter (you are saying they have poor taste because it is an insult if you do not agree with them). When you do this, you are saying that you are not fun to be around and they may stop hanging out.
Say thank you and appreciate the compliment for what it was meant to mean. Stay with the positive intention, relish the feeling and show your graciousness to them by accepting without excuse.
In your job if you are not validated then this can make you not want to be there. If you do not get significance from doing a great job, from being helpful, to whatever it is you do, you feel unfulfilled and not worthy. So, you start looking elsewhere or become overly dramatic, or cause trouble gossiping so that you do get some sort of significance.
There is evidence that people who want to commit suicide think about it because their need to be important in the world is not there. They are starved of validation, this could have come from childhood, their perception of how the world is or even in adulthood, no one is noticing them and they see themselves as unworthy or invisible.
I felt insignificant for a long time, as I only got praise for doing well at school and not causing trouble. I did not get noticed when in a room of people, I always seemed invisible. I found it difficult to validate someone else because I did not know how. Many times, I thought about, if I died nobody would even notice – which is a belief that is not true.
Now I love to give compliments, encouragement and say thank you. I do not do it to make me feel good alone, I do it because when you see another person’s face light up for being validated, that gives me significance for being able to be the beacon in someone’s day.
True acknowledgement of someone shows that you recognise who that person really is. It can help people access the part of them that you are acknowledging them for, they will tap into that a lot more readily. It also deepens a connection with someone.
To acknowledge people you need compassion, to be willing to give and to receive, have a curiousness or sense of wonder about the person you are with, have empathy, be generous and genuine.
Another activity I find so validating for me as a person, is to do things for people that they do not know who did it. To do something without receiving the reward, this is so uplifting, and I feel like a worthy person as I am not externally looking for the validation.
I would love it if you could think about how you are resourceful with validation. How do you give it and get it?