Hi everyone! I hope you are all well. Today I would like to talk to you about validation. If you’re like me, then you may have experienced the unpleasant feeling that the person you really want to be might not be accepted by everyone else. This discomfort might rear its ugly head in the most trivial situations or during more serious conversations. For example, you may be talking about music with your friends, or perhaps some of your favourite films; you’re going round the circle and suddenly someone asks you, what music are you listening to lately? All of a sudden, the one direction song you can’t get out of your head doesn’t seem like an acceptable answer. Perhaps this sounds familiar?

So, validation. What I mean is the idea that you need permission to be yourself. You might feel that other people are in charge and as a result, it is up to them to deem what is and isn’t acceptable. When trying to seek validation, or a stamp of approval from others that being ourselves is okay the opposite tends to happen. We start trying to be who we think others want us to be and this can be very tiring. In a nutshell, what we are doing is locking ourselves in a cage and this is frustrating which can lead to a lot of built up anger that may lead to depression if left unchecked.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the Sea World documentary, Blackfish? If you haven’t I strongly suggest you give it a watch; it’s on Netflix for those of you who have it. Without trying to give too much away, the documentary explores the psychological turmoil of killer whale Tillikum, after years of imprisonment. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end to well! The reason I’m bringing this up is because you would be horrified if I told you that you were going to spend the remainder of your days trapped, with no way out. Can you imagine what that would do to you mentally? It wouldn’t do you any favours for sure. However some of us, myself included, have voluntarily trapped ourselves in a box and it is filled with frustration and anxiety. The good news is that we can come out of the box any time we want. All we have to do is stop seeking validation. You don’t need permission to be yourself, you have that right just because you are alive!

You may be thinking and rightful so, if it was so easy you would have figured it out already. Unfortunately it’s not easy and is part of the growing pains that come with transitioning into adulthood. One of the ways I stopped seeking validation is to try and remind myself of the things that I have and cherish them. Stop and think for a minute of the people in your life that you value, or a hobby you have that makes you feel alive. Now think how much worse off you would be if these things weren’t in your life. The reason people are in your life is because you have value. Other people see it and now it is important for you to see it as well. Trust them, they love and cherish you just for being you! Here is the first sign that you don’t need to be anyone else because you are bringing value to the people who care about you the most. This is true whether you have a vast social circle or just a few close friends or family.

Before I wrap up I would just like to add a slight disclaimer, being yourself doesn’t mean that you should turn down the opinions, or comments of others. Other people have valuable advice we can learn from and develop as people. Being yourself in my opinion is asking yourself one simple question, having heard what has been said, what do I want to do about it? When you decide what to do, you feel that you are living your own life. However, when you seek permission from others and their advice isn’t as good as you’d hoped, it is very easy to become frustrated and resentful towards the person who tried to help you. When you take control of your own life, seeking validation will be a thing of the past.

Have a great weekend everyone,

Alex Richards