I was 48, when Dr Jo told me I would be much happier, much more balanced, much more…everything good…if I shifted from seeking external validation to connecting with my inner navigation system —or, more clinically: a system of internal validation. Sounds like an easy shift right? It seemed pretty strait forward to Dr. Jo too, apparently. I, on the other hand was a bit perplexed.
First, I had to become aware of the fact that I actually sought external validation to navigate life. To be frank, I didn’t know there was such a thing! Even with my HUGE library of self help books and all the psychology courses I took, I completely spaced on the subject of validation.
I cared deeply about what was going on with the people around me and could easily be pulled off track by others and their agendas. If someone didn’t like what I was doing, I would become very worried and upset, and would even walk away from things that would have been very good for me, just so others wouldn’t be displeased.
People who seek external validation prefer or need others to tell them they are good enough, on the right track, and doing the right things. We women tend to seek external validation; we care about what others think of us, and can be hyper aware of what’s going on around us. We will often make our decisions based on what our tribe thinks rather than what’s best for ourselves. The tribe doesn’t always have our best interests at heart and sometimes pile on to prevent one of the tribe members to grow or do something new and different. When this happens, ultimately, the whole tribe suffers.
Those who who are guided by internal validation tend to be introspective, and self directed. I have a few friends who are very strongly self directed, and up until now, they were a complete mystery to me. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around how they operated. They were comfortable with their independence, and comfortable being on the outside of the crowd, which terrified me. Most interestingly, they were happier, more centered and much more successful than my friends and I.
“I want me some of that for sure!” I thought, after my chat with Dr. Jo. Though I have to say, making the shift it wasn’t an overnight thing. As I worked through various conflicts, and turned to meditation, little by little, I began to find and hear my inner voice. The more I listened, the more I began to trust it and the more my life seemed to fall in line. Life seemed to “work” in ways it had never worked before.
I began to see that when I listened to others and sought their approval, I was buffeted around like a rudderless ship. My former husband was notorious—he was one I could never make happy; he always wanted something different than what he had. Learning that some people are never happy, others change their minds frequently, and still others are down right dangerous, I began to realize how important it was to learn to trust myself.
I learned that life isn’t a zero sum game, that there is enough for everyone, and that our growing and trying new things, our desire to put our own unique mark on this world is a good thing for all of us. When one grows, we all grow.
The more time I spent in prayer and meditation, the more my sense of internal direction grew, and the more clear I became in knowing what I wanted for my life and gathered the courage to pursue it.
While I was in Yoga Teacher Training a few years ago, we were asked to adopt the lifestyle and teachings of the Yogi, which included a change of diet and personal care—some of which I was comfortable with, other parts I was not. I turned to my close and very self directed friend, Michelle for her thoughts. “Listen to yourself…listen to your body…” she advised. “Note what your body is calling for and do that.” I took her advice.
Being a part of a tribe can be a wonderful thing. Holding our own heart sovereign and following its gentle call to add your unique value to this world is our soul’s calling.