There’s nothing like a little praise or reward to get us all pumped up inside. As human beings, one of our basic needs is to be acknowledged; to be seen and heard. From the earliest moments of life when we call out to our parents for love, comfort, nourishing and care, we are looking to be acknowledged.
Then along comes life with all the twists and turns of experiences. Parents get busy. Teachers get distracted. Friends forget. Gradually over time we can start to feel that no one notices us and in particular no one is giving us any kind of recognition for being who we are. We may still get applause for achievements but the cooing and gushing that fills a small child’s life just because they are present, usually becomes sporadic and minimal.
When this happens in primary relationships the sense of being unimportant or taken for granted can be a catalyst for self-sabotaging behaviours. We might start talking too much or jostling to be the centre of attention. We might engage in gossip or judgemental conversations just to feel accepted. We might use substances or destructive behaviours to shame ourselves. Alternatively, some people withdraw and simmer silently in frustration and sadness. Some people develop an apathetic attitude about themselves and their life. And then there are those who just get mad. Their anger spills out towards those they love and anybody else who gets in the way.
So besides walking around with a sandwich sign asking for validation what can we do? We can start within and give ourselves the affirming messages we long for. Don’t ever underestimate the power of self-acceptance. After all, while we may be designed to want approval or accolades from others, if we don’t believe it, it won’t land with us anyway. Inevitably, we will still crave from the outside what is really an inside job.
That’s when the magic happens. When we are celebrating our own unique, amazing and capable selves, others start picking up the vibe. Before you know it, others will be joining in on the act and consider anything that comes from others as bonus points!
Ms. Daryl Wood, is the founder and leader of the Women’s Wisdom Retreats held in beautiful Tobermory, Ontario. She is a published author, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Certified TED* Practitioner, passionate student of life and so much more.