How Important Is Validation to Your Sense of Self?
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
– Al Franken as Stuart Smalley
The fictional Saturday Night Live character was a poster child for self -love in the face of self-deprecation and co-dependence as he did a great deal of mirror work. This modality was espoused by Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, and Robert Holden, PhD, creator of The Happiness Project. It involves being fully present with yourself and offering words of praise and affirmation that are meaningful for you as you gaze into the eyes of the man or woman reflected in the looking glass. It might feel as surreal as it was for Alice or as natural as the beat of your heart. Like any practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Words have a powerful effect on us. Many have grown up with the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” This is erroneous, as anecdotally evidenced by the numbers of people sitting in therapist’s offices, sharing tales of parental verbal abuse and the impact it has had on their lives
Affirmations are one means of re-directing chronic negative self -talk. Think of them as a way of reprograming a computer which is malfunctioning or changing a diet if what you have been eating causes ill effects on your system.
According to Jesse Jackson, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”
Suggestions for creating affirming statements:
- Begin with the words, “I am.” According to the late author and speaker Wayne Dyer, these are two of the most powerful words that can be uttered and all that follows are linked to them. He reminded readers that our brains respond to what they are fed. If we tell ourselves that something can’t be accomplished, or we are somehow ‘less than,’ we accept it as fact.
- Add to them what you DO want, rather than what you don’t want. For example, if you are job seeking, you might use the affirmation, “I am now working at my ideal job,” rather than “I’m not yet in the situation I want to be.” Although that might be so at the moment, you are more likely to remain right where you are if you claim it as truth.
- Write them down so that you can read them back to yourself.
- Tape record them so that you can listen to them in your sleep.
- Create them as if they are happening in the present moment. “I am now improving my diet and taking care of my body in ways that make me healthier every day.”
A few years ago, I discovered a video that portrays the importance of external validation. It put a smile on my face as I watched it and it reminded me that when people feel acknowledged, they are more likely to experience a sense of mood elevation. Take time to offer praise to those you encounter and allow others to shower you with words that reinforce what you would like to believe about yourself.