I ran into this video on TikTok by GaryVee and the message was really neat.
Validation is a very tricky scenario. There are elements of what validation is in my prose poem Earth Magic; where how you grow up and who you’re around influences the way you feel about yourself. When we seek validation, there’s always that great risk of not being grounded; your roots end up being pulled one way and the other then you end up not having any foundation. Being uprooted from any situation can be traumatizing, the precursor to an existential crisis. Unfortunately, the solution we’re introduced to for the pain and uncertainty is seeking more validation even though that may have been what uprooted us in the first place. We depend on external sources to confirm or deny who we are and simultaneously mistrust our internal sources, our intuition, our self-esteem, our ability to self-reflect.
Internal and external conflict is such a powerful tool in writing because it’s so human. An inner monologue could contrast what other events are happening around the character, which brings suspense and tension. We go through this all the time. What’s going on within isn’t in alignment with what’s going on around us. The popular kids Garyvee talked about may have not aligned with the pressure that comes with popularity, but they would ignore or repress what’s going on internally to continue being fed the validation externally. Validation like this can be very problematic psychologically, but there’s another side to validation that is much more fulfilling.
Many people think inner peace is a façade because it appears to be near impossible. So why even try to achieve it? I think inner peace at its core is an acceptance of the internal and external tensions along with an acceptance of what can and can’t be controlled. Validation from others is something that you feed. If you want validation from your parents, you’ll feed it by doing whatever they tell you to do or what you think they’d expect from you. If you want validation from peers and coworkers, you will change your behavior or even hide your true behavior. The energy put into feeding the influence validation has on you can be shifted to validation of the self that eventually finds the external sources that are in alignment with who you are. This can happen with even small things, like personal interests; I don’t like mainstream pop music, but if I want validation from peers who like mainstream pop, I’ll listen to it until my ears bleed. The truth is, I like rock and heavy metal. The peers who like mainstream pop may no longer be in alignment with me because of my interests, but now they know who I am and they’ll either want to understand me more or distance themselves. Either way, I now have the opportunity to connect with fellow metal heads and we can now garner a reciprocal validation, but even if validation from the metal heads doesn’t happen, my love for metal will be enough for me. I accept I can’t control my peers or other metal heads; I can control what I listen to and can chose to enjoy it as much as I want.
Validation has a close association with “liking” or “loving” something or someone. That’s why I think it’s a tricky concept that is best simplified when you focus on self-acceptance first and go from there. That way, you’ll never be in poverty even if “likes” become an actual currency. This is what “grounding” really is.
There’s a Black Mirror episode about this. It’s called “Nosedive”, season three, episode one. Please watch it. It’s perfect.