Validation

I’ve had a tendency to ramble in my lifetime. Recently, I’ve gotten a lot better at listening first, and I thought I’d turned a corner in this area. But a conversation with one of my closest friends showed me that I was wrong.

I spoke to him about a litany of topics and dominated the conversation for nearly three hours. I realized this, apologized, and observed that I clearly have more work to do in this area. He told me that everyone needs to get stuff out from time to time; while that is certainly true, I didn’t feel like it explained my behaviour. I still felt an impulse to talk, despite having told him so much for so long.

He then asked if it could be because I don’t trust myself. I wasn’t sure what he meant initially, so he clarified: if I don’t trust myself, I’ll seek validation from others. In my case, I seek validation most with the people whose opinions I respect; if they agree with me, it makes me feel like I’m “right”, even though on another level I’m pretty confident that being right is a fictional concept. (I’ll get into that more in another post.)

This notion that I was seeking validation resonated with me, despite it being another area I’d thought I’d turned a corner in. I have lots of experience with patterns resurfacing once I think I’ve integrated a shift, so I wasn’t really surprised, except by how obvious it seemed that it was accurate once he’d said it aloud.

What I appreciated most about his observation was that he started with the solution. The problem is that I seek validation; the solution is trusting myself so that I don’t need that external validation.

The flip side of this is that I have withdrawn from people I don’t know as well; I rarely discuss things that I really care about with people outside my inner circle. But that circle is pretty small these days, and it isn’t going to get any bigger if I don’t take some chances.

So I’m going to embrace opportunities to have my viewpoints challenged and get comfortable with the feelings that come up in me when I feel I’m not being heard. I will show myself that I know how to balance external input with my existing knowledge and beliefs, which will help me build self-trust.

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