The Validation Vortex

I have known for many years that I had a problem seeking the approval of others. I understand why it was a problem, and I thought I was making headway, until my last round of bathroom renovation projects brought me a deeper dose of self-awareness.

Nothing wrong with doing a bathroom reno – and I enjoyed both of these recent projects immensely…but what’s up with the Facebook posting of pictures from various stages? Worse yet, why was I checking to see how many “likes” I was getting?

I’m a creative -no surprise there. I am not saying that I am a great artist or that every idea I have is a good one when I say that “I am creative” – I just know that I enjoy creativity. To be creative is to take risks. It is inherent in the nature of creativity. I discovered this during my wainscotting 1.0-2.0-3.0 and 3.0b project. Not everything I did worked out for me – let alone anyone else. The wainscotting project led me to my new favourite phrase of “make better mistakes next time”.

Which leads me to scratch my head and ask: Why am I disappointed if someone doesn’t “like” what I have created? The vast majority play it safe, and so, pushing the boundaries is not going to be comfortable for them. But why do I do it, and how does this affect me?

Byron Katie puts it like this: “We stand in front of a person, we imagine what they want us to sound like, and we put on a facade in order to win their approval. Then when they say something like ‘I approve of you,’ part of us doesn’t really believe it because we know they’re approving of a facade. The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it impossible to have them.” Ergo the Validation Vortex.

I haven’t researched this, but I would be willing to bet that the Facebook algorithm has a healthy dose of the validation vortex built into it. Don’t get me wrong Facebook friends – I love you, but none of us should be needing the validation of anyone else to feel good about who we are – and please note that I am not about to suggest that we should all stop giving a @%$#% damn about what anyone thinks about us. That would be akin to promoting a spirit of brash and defiant arrogance. No thanks.

What am I going to suggest is that we can use the awareness to grow. Given that contentment (insert peace) can not be achieved pursuing validation through others, the first step we need to take toward contentment is to let go of the need. When we note that we are seeking approval, we can acknowledge it, step back, breathe, and choose to let it go – and then enjoy (and accept) ourself.  In my case: enjoy the stone wall!

This shift serves to provide an additional benefit: We have no ulterior motive for being someone’s friend. If we don’t need the approval of others, we  are free to be fully present for them.

I am embarrassed to write this. I’d rather lead you to believe that I have it together – but I need to tell you that I am experiencing a wave of hope in this moment. It is as if the simple awareness of what has been happening under the surface of my recent actions is bringing another round of deeper healing.

Have you caught yourself in the Validation Vortex? Have you ever retreated from creativity or feared the opinions of others in relation to your efforts?

Be encouraged. To be aware is to be on the road to freedom.