I see so many people, and athletes, going through life seeking validation. They are looking for someone or something (such as a race result, placing/standing, or outcome) to stamp them with a seal of approval, a single statement which proclaims that they are “worthy and special” as a person/athlete. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with seeking the approval of others, so long as we understand that validation that has merit, and is permanent, can only come from within.
Before we discuss how to achieve internal or self-validation, lets discuss the dangers encountered when seeking validation from external sources.
First, in virtually every relationship (even coaching relationships or sponsorships), those entering primarily seek their own desires, pleasures, and benefit. Think about it, most coaches not only love helping their athletes but they do so because it creates a sense of fulfillment and purpose for their own life as well. Likewise, even a sponsorship relationship comes as a mutual benefit for both the athlete and company. It is very rare to enter into a relationship where the other person/entity truly has only your best interest at heart. I am not suggesting that all relations are derived purely from the possibility of self-advancements. Healthy relationships grow from mutual benefit and are not one-sided where one person does all the taking and none of the giving. However, in order to be able to enter into a healthy relationship both parties must be okay within themselves beforehand. Those entering into relationships hoping to have some void or emptiness fulfilled, or are seeking validation from their partner/coach will almost certainly end up miserable and invalidated.
Secondly, even if you were to feel completed or whole, and validated, because of the relationship, what happens if that relationship ends miserably? When partners in the relationship separate, the one who validated you takes away their validation. By the separation, they are declaring you no longer okay as a person/athlete, and you are worse off then when you entered into the relationship. You are worse off not only due to the loss of the validation they provided, but now they have declared you unworthy of being with in a relationship.
Thirdly, there are dangers in declaring yourself validated, or at least okay, dependent upon the things you own or can do (such as the latest race bike, shoes, gadgets, consistently PR or place). The person who feels worthy based upon jobs, race success, or the size of their banking account, is in danger of losing their validation should the object that created their validation to begin with be lost.
So, how does one achieve internal or self-validation? The answer is simple, albeit not always an easy one to accept because it requires us to be brutally honest with one ’s self. This process leads to an honest recognition of who and what you are in a non-judgemental stance, nothing more, nothing less. It results in you recognizing both your positive and negative qualities. Once you have achieved a brutally honest relationship with who you are, you are encouraged to advance your positive attributes, and correct, replace, or simply argue away your negative attributes. While this process is never-ending, you will reach a point where you can look at yourself honestly and declare yourself to be at least okay.
I am not suggesting that you become boastful, narcissistic, or walking around beating your chest and bragging about what a great person you are. Rather, you can quietly accept who and what you are as a person. Then and only then will you have achieved self-validation.
Self-validation is simply a recognition that you are a complete and whole person, and that you are okay as you are. You recognize that you do not need anything or anyone external yourself to declare that you are okay as a person, you have the power to do that yourself.
Take a moment and reflect on the things in your life that you allow to have power over your value as a person and remind yourself that you are worthy just as you are. If you can work to appreciate what you have or can do but not allow it to define your sense of worth then you are well on your way to self-validation.
Keep reaching for your peak and shine on my friends!