When we seek validation, that is, when we want another to like us, this is when weakness seeps in. What is the mechanism behind validation?
“I want you to see me as how I want to see myself.”
If I want to be seen as a charismatic, attractive individual, when I want someone else to like me, I also want them to see me as a charismatic, attractive individual. As soon as we are locked into the desire of someone liking us, we are stuck in the grip of that other person. How so?
If I want the other person to see me as how I would like to see myself (charismatic and attractive), then I will invest my energy into creating circumstances that make me appear this way. For instance, if the other person is talking about the quality of “attractiveness,” I may tell a story of when a girl was attracted to me, I may brag about how she was so attracted even if I was not interested. I could even mention that I was not even trying, I just “walked in” and she was “infatuated.”
Right when I finish talking, the person listening has a few choices. She can express in amazement “wow, did that really happen?” Or, sometimes all she needs to do is just nod or smile. These expressions produce a pleasurable feeling and validate the idea that “I am attractive.” However, if she says sarcastically “Yea, ok, sure.” Or, even if she raises her eyebrows in suspicion, this can produce a painful feeling of invalidation “I am not attractive.”
Behind these stories, what I am really saying is “I would like to think that I’m attractive, look at me.” I am giving the other person the power and ability to determine whether I feel that I am attractive or not. This is the enemy. How you will feel afterwards is like rolling dice in a casino, gambling on your emotions. You can feel good, but you can also feel very bad.
If we want to be powerful within ourselves, we have to learn not to give others our sense of self. In the search for approval, we can become slaves to the whims of other people’s opinions. This is not a free and fulfilling life. The key is to understand that we need to tap into our internal dialogue and validate ourselves. When this occurs, we become comfortable in our own bodies, and free to live life.
Remember, a lion does not ask other animals for permission to be a lion.
-Hemal P. Trivedī