Can you relate—have you recently looked to others for validation of your inner worth?
Something as simple as a compliment on a new dress or a “job well done” from your boss or co-worker can change your entire mood for the day. Oftentimes though, it’s even much deeper validation we seek. When we look to others for validation of our life choices, personal appearance or even just who we are as a person, we are willingly opening the door for them to steal our personal joy.
External Validation and I go way back.
I’ve always had a strong fear of abandonment which I know comes from my being adopted. I don’t think you ever really get over being given away as a small child no matter what the circumstances are. Because of this my whole life I operated from a space where I felt the need to prove myself worthy of another person’s admiration, friendship or love. As a child and even an adult I was desperately seeking the approval of my parents. In my career I felt I was not being valued because I wasn’t being told what a great job I had been doing, and I spent years showing up for friends way more than they would show up for me, often at the expense of showing up for myself. I was approaching every relationship the same way, with the fear that if I was not what the other person needed or wanted me to be all the time then I would not be wanted at all. I never stopped to realize that in doing so I was willingly putting my self-worth into their hands.
How I Stay Aligned
So much of my personal journey on the road of Body Positivity hinges off of my affirmation practice. Every morning I stand in front of my full-length mirror and practice my affirmation “I am Enough Now.” Click here to read my 5 Strategies for Cultivating Self-Acceptance to learn how I combined my affirmation practice with other approaches to defining my self-worth on my own terms.
My external-validation-free love for myself was tested a few years ago when I attended a large family function. I was excited for the reactions of my 120lb weight loss, since I hadn’t seen some people in over two years. I was sure to get praise on the work I had done and my lifestyle changes. That didn’t happen at all. Instead, I received no real acknowledgment from anyone about the difference in my appearance. Immediately my first thought was “How can you not see this and say something?” My feelings were hurt… I mean I didn’t just lose five pounds here—this was a substantial amount of weight. And, since my weight had been an issue since childhood, I felt myself starting to go back to my old mindset of “Have I not done enough?” But then, I came back to my mantra of “I am enough now.” I now realize that my family not acknowledging my weight loss does not erase the fact that it has happened, that I have put the work in. I have changed my lifestyle, I am feeling well, and I am looking great. I am inspiring others, and I am living my best life now. Those feelings of hurt soon turned to feelings of freedom...freedom to live my life from a place where I can find confidence in my own choices and peace in my way of living without the validation of others affecting my spirit, and it feels very powerful to finally be here!
What about you? Can you relate to the struggle of seeking validation from external sources? What are your strategies for keeping your mindset aligned with your inner worthiness? Comment below!