Where do you get validation? Whose approval makes you feel accepted and justified in your decisions? Who validates your talents, efforts, looks, life choices?
Is it your parents? Perhaps you want their approval of your boyfriend for you to feel like the relationship is "everything you need and deserve" - since they know you best, right? Or maybe you want to pick a career path that they approve of. If they think it's right for you and the best possible option, it will feel good to pursue what they want.It's really easy to live your life when everyone else is the one who gets to validate your existence, your choices, and your future, right?! WRONG!!! None of what I wrote above is at all true, even though we spend a lot of time telling ourselves those same, ridiculous stories, making us the victims of our own lives and accepting guilt and shame from anyone who tells us (in some form) we aren't good enough / that decision was a bad one / we aren't worthy of love or acceptance.
Is it your boss? Maybe your work feels meaningless and unfulfilling unless your manager validates your hard work on every project. If you don't get a "good job" from them, you probably didn't live up to their expectations. You aren't impressive unless they tell you so. "Talent does you no good unless it's recognized by someone else." - Robert Half
Is it your friends? Perhaps you need them to weigh in on your outfit or your hair cut before it really feels like a good choice. It doesn't matter if you like it, right? Just all long as all your girlfriends think it looks fabulous on you.
For the majority of my life, I have been a gold-star-craving, people-pleasing martyr. I would do anything... ANYTHING... to feel like my family, friends, teachers, mentors, colleagues, strangers accepted me. Oh, parents, you don't like that boyfriend? Yeah, me neither. Friends, you don't like this dress? Oh yeah, totally changing. I would basically tell myself that what I felt in my heart or gut didn't matter, and that everyone else knew better. What a powerless, depressing way to tread through life. I couldn't even see how drained I was of control or strength in my life until I released this detrimental defense mechanism of "if I do what everyone else in my life thinks is best, I won't have to fear being unloved or unaccepted; I will be what they want me to be."
My retreat with the Bliss Sisters is where I really left this bad habit behind...
In a circle full of glowing, loving women, I sat on a tree stump with journal in hand, sun kissing my skin, and pondered the following: "I am limiting my life with the belief that..." Michelle, the creator and leader of the Bliss Sisters, had all asked us all to finish this thought. After spending not even 24 hours with these women, I had already found a place with them that felt like "home." My spirit felt at ease, and all of the ice surrounding my thoughts was ready to melt away and reveal a world of possibilities. I listed 10 things easily and could have gone on for some time, admitting to all of the thoughts I let limit my potential. But the one that stood out the most for me and felt like it really ruled my life was: "I am limiting my life with the belief that... I need answers and validation from others in my life to feel like my decisions are acceptable." As soon as I shared this with the group, I was immediately encouraged. I felt like I had escaped a suffocating straight jacket that was holding back so much of my ability to live an empowered, love-filled life. This was a pivotal thing for me to admit and to set free into the Universe. The women were quick to show their support, assuring me that I - ME - already have all the answers within myself, and that I can have love and acceptance without hustling for validation from family, friends, whomever. I knew they were right, and for the first time in my life, I was ready to let go of that limiting thought.
The final "snip" of that thread came when Michelle asked us to form our own personal mantra from the opposite of that very limiting thought. Each woman took some time to flip her thinking around and find the right words to really convey a powerful statement to live by. Through lots of doodling, rewriting, and hashing it out with the other ladies, I was able to come up with a mantra that really resonated with me:
"I will not override my intuition. I am the only one who can validate myself."The key words are intuition and validation. Intuition is that sixth sense - that voice that whispers in your ear, telling you to take that job, or to let yourself fall for that person. Listening to your intuition means dialing into your heart and following your gut. It is a powerful thing to do. It means that you ask yourself for the answers and you recognize that you indeed know exactly what you want, without getting others to weigh in. The second half of my mantra is a reminder that I don't need anyone - not ONE person - to give me the thumbs up or a gold star for me to be able to feel confident, proud, and satisfied with my decisions. If we only live to make others happy, we are likely sacrificing our own happiness. I find such strength in recognizing that I can give myself all those pats on the back, double-takes, high fives, and compliments that I have been desperate to get from everyone else in my life! It was only a way to avoid getting that kindness and encouragement from myself. I now see that I can be my own biggest fan and that believing in myself is 1000x stronger than getting that validation from anyone else. That brings me back to the quote I mentioned earlier: "Talent does you no good unless it's recognized by someone else." Robert Half was obviously not cued into the power of recognizing your own talents and remembering that you are wonderful, regardless of whether someone else says so or not. Self confidence and listening to one's intuition is pure magic - that is the kind of power that we absolutely cannot get when we look for those things outside of ourselves.
Today, ask yourself what is holding you back from living your best life. It's never too late or too hard to let go of those limitations and start a-fresh.
Love and light xo