Friday, July 29, 2011

Validation from Within

Courtesy Google Images

I had a post about validation all written in my head while I showered. I came down to write it and got as far as the title.

Then, Joey came back from the pool and wanted lunch...

Which led to my realizing that the washing machine wasn't doing anything, even though I had turned it on, so I gave it a little nudge...

Leading to Justin coming in from the pool and saying that he just found out that our new neighbor went to church and actually sat beside his dad on the same church pew when he was growing up...Life can be freaky that way. It is such a small world.

And sometimes you get off track.

But back to my original thought. As I have written about ad nauseum on here and in various rants I have saved on my computer journals, I got fired last October. It took me months and months of anger at them and disappointment in myself for not being able to handle the job before I got over it. This morning, this thought hit me. Validation does not come from other people. Validation comes from within.

One of my favorite friends on Facebook suggested this morning that people write a love letter to themselves. It's so easy to be hard on ourselves, to cut ourselves down internally, to say mean things to ourselves that we would never say out loud to another person, even to our worst enemy. Why are we so hard on ourselves? As my mom puts it, I am my own worst enemy. I can make myself feel worse than anyone else on the planet. But I can also make myself feel better. How I interpret things is really up to me.

It's so easy to get caught up in the fact that you haven't heard from someone in a long time that you are (or thought you were) very close to, or that your spouse said something that "made you feel bad" (by the way, only you can make yourself feel bad - it's all in how you take something!), or that your relatives haven't called to check on you in awhile. And you make yourself feel bad about it instead of picking up the phone and calling the person you are projecting things onto to see what's going on with them or gently asking your spouse what he or she meant by a certain thing they said. Maybe their life is blowing up and they haven't wanted to bring you down. Maybe something awful happened that they are trying to deal with. Maybe they have been distracted with something else. Maybe it was your turn to call and you forgot. Maybe your spouse didn't mean what he/she said the way you took it. Maybe, maybe, loses its meaning when you keep saying it, doesn't it?

I have looked for validation externally almost my entire life. I still catch myself doing it, along with putting two spaces between sentences, which I now hear is completely wrong if you want to get published. (Damn, that's going to be a hard habit to break!) I have always looked to someone else to tell me that I am worth something, that I am a worthy person, that I am worth someone's time, that I have something to offer. What I realized after feeling absolutely crappy every day I was at that job for an entire year and from which I then got fired is that validation does not come from external sources. Validation comes from inside yourself. Only you can make yourself believe that you have worth, that you have something to offer, that you are not a drag on society as a whole. Yes, other people can tell you these good thing or bad things, but in the end, it is only you and your thoughts that really matter. And how you talk to yourself makes a great deal of difference in how you feel about yourself. If you are telling yourself that you are worthless, you are going to feel that way.

I puzzled and wondered about that job for a long time. I could not understand what I had done wrong, why they didn't like me, what I could have done differently, what would be waiting for me that I had done wrong the last time.. I tried to do everything that was asked of me and it still wasn't enough. I got told later (in an anonymous cheap shot from the person who got me fired) that I was too negative. I might have been. I tried not to be. The thing is, I thought that I did everything that was asked of me. I did my very best and it wasn't enough. I tried to fit in and I just didn't. And for a long time that was very painful, because it was the first time I had ever been fired from a job.

But recently I have come to the realization that what they really wanted from me was for me to change who I am. And that's not a fair thing to ask of anyone. So, really, they did me the biggest favor of my life when they asked for my resignation, because it freed me up to be myself again. And once I had that right to be myself, I felt better about who I was. I didn't constantly question whether I was "acting" the way I should be. I didn't beat myself up over stupid little mistakes because I realized that I am human. And I never have to "act" for anyone ever again.

My therapist told me yesterday that when someone is telling me that I am "doing it wrong," no matter how hard I try, it is their flaw, not mine. I think there's a lot of truth to that. Because I was not doing my job the way they wanted me to do it, because they did not like me for whatever reason, that was their flaw. I did my best and it wasn't enough for them and that's okay. I hope they found someone they like better to do the job. And the bonus to not working there is that I don't have to read really depressing things that happened all the time. I am not mired in the negativity of that environment. And I am not caught in the teenage type cliquishness and drama that really should have remained in middle school. Maybe I am dwelling, but I don't think so. Yes, I am still angry inside about this and yes I still have negative feelings about the people that I allowed to make me feel so badly about myself. But I am not obsessed with it.

And when God slammed that door in my face, he opened a huge window - a much better way for me to validate myself. With my writing.

No, I have never written professionally before. I never even wrote for fun. It was never something I considered as a career. But out of the ashes of the tragedy that happened to our friends last year when their daughter died of leukemia at the age of three came an inspiration for a little book. And that book morphed into five manuscripts. Then suddenly there was this blog. Now I am writing a book for adults that I have always wanted to write. I have gained a tiny bit of recognition online and see that recognition growing. That makes me feel good about myself and it does validate me a little bit externally. But I know that what is coming back to me from my writing in a positive way is coming back to me because I am being myself and doing something I love to do.

And that, my friends, is amazing. Validate yourself because you are worth it. And maybe, if you believe in yourself, it will come back to you from the people around you.


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