Waves of Meera’s excitement were touching the moon that day, she couldn’t wait for the hands of the clock to meet, as it will be an announcement for the beginning of her birthday. She was eager to receive her b’day presents. Her mom gifted her a shimmering pink dress and silver bellies, and she received a tiara from her dad.
She was looking no less than a princess at her birthday party. All of her friends were invited to the party. Everyone enjoyed and had a blast except Meera. But why? What just happened to her?
Her friends didn’t utter a single word of appreciation for her. For a girl whose ears were used to hearing applauses and praises, this was a novel but unpleasant experience. In her class, she has been the one who always gave the correct answer and was her teacher’s favorite. Never has she returned home without any trophy or award from her annual day function.
When she didn’t receive appreciation for her beautiful dress, she felt disrespected and unworthy. She forgot how happy she was when she received the present, all the joy blew off with candles. The chocolate cake lost its sweetness. The happy music turned sad.
Gradually, she came out of this episode. Years passed, and she is now 15 years old young girl who desires to make her presence in the world. To have a social media account was new in those days and she too fell for it like her other friends. She connected with her old friends and many new faces were also on her friend list. She regularly posted on these sites. Sometimes she would swim in oceans of likes and other times she would be searching for a few drops of water in the desert. The girl would move up and down on her emotional roller-coaster. She was becoming a short-tempered and anxious person day by day.
Since childhood she had linked her emotions with external validation and the same is reflected in her behaviour today. She has given the remote control of her happiness in hands of some random people who themselves are not in charge of their happiness as they too are at others’ mercy for feeling good about themselves.
Why does Meera seek external validation?
Meera like all of us has a longing for acceptance by people, which comes from social validation. Our brain links acceptance to safety, which is our basic need. Though our physical safety is very much ensured today, our emotional safety is subjected to myriad uncertainties. This is the reason why Meera does her best to gain acceptance from others, she studies hard to get her parent’s and teacher’s acceptance, she keeps her friends happy to be accepted by them, and she regularly posts on social media platforms to keep a grip on acceptance by the people on her list.
Where does the problem arise?
When it becomes a habit and we can’t go by without getting thumbs up that too not one or two, hundreds and thousands. External validation brings out unhealthy comparisons among people. This comparison can bring dissatisfaction, hatred and frustration toward one’s own identity, leading to psychological disorders.
The answer lies in self-validation
We have forgotten that there is something far superior and more important than Social validation which is self-validation. Meera was never taught in her childhood to accept herself the way she was before anyone else does. Meera was an emotional and sensitive person but she never read or understood her emotions and thoughts; She has always looked at others to give a green flag to her emotions. She has always ignored the inner voice that says this much is enough, I am happy and content. My approval comes before anyone else’s.
When we start validating ourselves we take the charge of our happiness. Self validations may not be accurate or absolute, but it brings the confidence to believe in oneself, which is healthy and uplifting. Meera needed that shift.
How can Meera practice self-validation?
The pioneering step for self-validation is self-acceptance. Meera has to accept herself for what she is and who she is at the physical, mental and emotional levels. Meera should remind herself about the positives of her life, good health, strong relationships, a worthy goal, etc. She has to start spending more time with herself than on social media. Once she becomes a good friend with herself she will no longer fight with her emotions or feel guilty about them but will accept them, analyze them and rectify them if needed. She will learn to say it’s OK, to make mistakes sometimes, or to not always be the best. Life still has great things to offer to feel good about that are imperishable and can lend us lasting happiness.