Technically speaking, validity relates to measurement. You might cook a meal for your family that you think will need more of something. Let’s pretend we’re talking mashed potatoes (those sound heavenly right now.) One way to test this would be to allow a family member to taste a sample of the potatoes you’ve whipped up to validate whether or not the mashed potatoes are satisfactory the way they are, or if they will indeed need some doctorin’. If your spouse puts that spoon of potatoes in his mouth and says, “These mashed potatoes are better than Paula Dean’s,” we often swell up with a sense of accomplishment, and boom! We have validation that we did it right. If he takes that bite and says, “They’re ok. I don’t usually like them this chunky,” we oftentimes feel an immediate letdown and our heads are filled with whispers like, “I can’t get anything right.” That’s validation that we’re no good.
In the emotional and spiritual realm, we often look for validation from those we interact with in order to satisfy us.
During my first year of teaching, I was a mess. I loved the kids, but I often questioned whether or not I was impactful. When I didn’t receive any feedback from a particular colleague, I did not feel validated. I felt like I wasn’t measuring up and it was a constant guessing game in my mind on how I might win this colleague’s validation or approval. I kept looking for affirmation from her. I never found it.
I remember singing at church when I was younger and how several adults told me how pretty my voice was. I felt validated. I measured up. A few years later, I sang again and nobody said anything. I immediately started questioning and doubting my abilities. Was I not good anymore? Are they not saying anything because they are trying to be polite by not saying anything negative? I decided I wasn’t a “solo” person anymore. All because I was fearful I wouldn’t be validated.
When I had my first child, I went from being described as “glowing” in pregnancy to getting told that if I REALLY prioritized my child, I would find a way to stay home with her rather than going back to work. Validation during pregnancy that I was a glowing ray of sunshine followed by a feeling of judgment and inadequacy as a first time mom led to me not feeling validated.
When I used the approval of others as my stamp of validation, I always ended up feeling like I was falling short and I never felt good enough.
At one point, I went through a very personal challenge with a relationship that caused me to question where I received my validation. What tool am I using to measure my satisfaction with myself? How was I determining if I was enough?
I remember hearing someone say to me in a sermon, “Know who you are and WHOSE you are.”
What exactly does that mean to me? That means that I’m designed for a specific purpose and God created me uniquely. My purpose was so important, that in this world of billions of people, He created me with a very specific idea in mind. I was physically and spiritually designed to fulfill a calling much more meaningful than what someone else’s desires or expectations might be for me. I’m not meant to live up to everyone else’s expectations. It’s kind of a relief to know that I no longer have to live up to the expectations of others, but that I can trust God to equip me with the skills I need in order to fulfill my purpose.
- If you feel like you aren’t enough.
- If you feel like you can’t measure up.
- If you feel like you always fall short.
- If you are exhausted from what seems like taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back.
- Where does your validation come from?
Lately, I’ve been asking myself the following when I need to make a decision:
- Is it healthy?
- Is it life-giving?
- Is it a blessing to others and nourishing to my soul?
When I sense that someone is dissatisfied with me:
- Is this MY problem?
- If yes, then how can I learn from it and be better?
- If no, then how can I release myself from the need of pleasing someone while still being loving and kind?
It’s easier said than done, but know WHO you are and WHOSE you are.
When we let other people define our worth, we will constantly question ourselves and doubt our worth.
Needing validation from others sneaks up on me more often than what I’d like to admit. I have to remember though, that Jesus Himself had haters. (That was my attempt at sounding cool while referring to Jesus.) And as Taylor Swift says, “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”
Know where your worth comes from.