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How To Get The Right Validation | Why You Need Validation

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As human beings, it is in our innate nature to give thought to what other people think about us.

If you didn’t carry your weight back in the day, or you did and said things away from the norm of the tribe, you were ousted and left to your own.

Being on your own meant lower chances of survival and the associated anxiety that goes with that. 

You were just much better off going with the crowd and fitting in, and ensuring your highest chances of survival, as a tribe rather than a lone wolf.

Things look a lot different now. You get food at the click of a button. You have “social” media, connecting you to the world at your fingertips. You are never really alone anymore, although some would say it’s the loneliest times they’ve experienced. That’s a separate topic. 

But point being, survival now looks a lot different than it did back then. You can survive, we’re talking very basic food, shelter here, without really relying too much on others. Cancel culture aside, there really is no tribe to kicked out of for thinking differently or walking your own path.

Yet, we still do seek the validation of other people and experience the associated anxiety to secure that validation, and we feel poorly when we don’t get it.

We want to be seen as wealthy to other people on Instagram, we want our highlight reel to be the best one. We want others to see the brand of the car we drive, that we really can’t afford. 

We want others to see the body we’ve built rather than enjoying the process of being healthy.

Bottom line, we want the validation of others. That innate part of us still exists, but its function just looks much different, and serves a different purpose than it used to.

Now some would say, “Don’t care what anyone thinks”, “I do my own thing” and something along those lines to signify how much they don’t care about what anyone else thinks of them.

Funny enough, the people that are the loudest about this, tend to care the most. It’s a perverse pursuit of validation for how much they don’t care about validation that is quite easy to see through.

The way I see it, it is futile to try to over-power millions of years of evolutionary mechanisms. However, we do have developed pre-frontal cortexes that allow for higher level thinking. 

Combined together, these evolutionary mechanisms of survival and our ability for complex thinking in the context of our current environment, can be used to exponentially serve us, rather than poorly trying to repress either.

You are going to seek validation, that’s not a choice.

However, who’s validation you seek and how you seek it is a choice.

Keep in mind, “validation” isn’t always a round of applause or an “atta boy”. Sometimes it is not even direct. 

Validation can be as simple as being in the same room as people you respect. The allowance of your presence there is their validation of you.

It can be standing ovation as you stand on stage. But it can also be a congratulatory hug from a grandparent.

The value of the type of validation depends on the person getting it. 

When I was younger, like most kids I wanted the validation of my parents. I wanted them to feel pride in me. 

And my pursuit of this looked like doing really well in school, working hard for a lot of years, getting into medical school and becoming a good physician. 

Great. Mission accomplished. Validation received, they were proud indeed.

But then as I started to realize that I am more creative and entrepreneurial and I had repressed that side of me to follow this path, that validation could no longer serve me.

My parents aren’t entrepreneurs. To them, the only version of success they have seen is doing well in school and following the “safe’ path that comes from that.

When they see me working on an entrepreneurial pursuit, they see it as a waste of time and a distraction from what I “should” be doing.

If I were to seek their validation in this regard, it would mean to quit building anything I am building, take on more shifts at work, save money, picket fence etc etc.

Seeking that validation would not serve me.

When I was in medical school, you rotate through different specialities in your third year. More or less, your job for 4-6 weeks is to earn the validation of the people you are working with, so you can pass the rotation and move to the next.

Each specialty has stereotypes and although not always true, like most stereotypes, there is an element of truth to them.

The surgeons respected “the grind”. 80 hour work weeks, not sleeping, filling up the board with surgical cases. The complexity of the surgeries. Who could work the longest without a vacation. 

These were the ways to earn their validation.

I did it to pass the rotation, but I didn’t care for this to be my life. So in the micro sense, for 4-6 weeks I did value their validation and did what I had to do. They liked me, I did well on the rotation, great.

But it would have been a mistake for me to seek their validation on a macro scale and make that my life, so I could fit into that group.

There were some people whose validation was around how many research papers they could pump out in a year. This was nauseating to me, so I avoided working with this group of people to begin with.

Back in high school, validation of the cool kids meant partying every weekend and who could get with the most girls. 

Back when I worked at a coffee shop, validation of management meant how clean the back area floor was and how well you could keep the stock in front filled. 

We are all looking for groups to be part of, directly or indirectly. You become part of the group by embodying and doing what it takes to get the “validation” of that group.

As I looked around to the Internet and saw all these people building businesses and living life on their own terms, it seemed like a group of people as a collective, who’s validation I would want.

And so my actions away from work, reflected that. I started writing, recording videos, producing content and figuring out what I could build that could provide value in the world and get me paid.

Seeking the “validation” of these type of people led to much different actions that seeking the validation of my parents, or those surgeons I worked with.

This is the classic “you become who you surround yourself with”. If your friends are all fat and lazy, seeking the validation of that group looks like smoking weed, eating like trash and playing video games. Maybe a lot of fun, but the actions you put in to secure the validation of that group, will have their associated consequences, which may not be so fun.

Conversely, if your friends and the people you associate with are dedicated gym-goers, eating to live rather than living to eat, their actions look vastly different. And if you want to continue being part of that tribe, the pursuit of their validation will cause you to take much different actions than he previous example. 

When you don’t do the actions and live in the ways that earns the validation of the group, you and they, will feel an inherent sense that you are “different” and don’t necessarily belong. Of course, in most cases, this will be subconscious. 

Your job however, is to be very conscious in deciding whose validation you will seek. Because again, it is not your choice to seek it. If you don’t decide, you will resort to seeking the validation of the people in your surroundings be it physical, or the content you consume on the Internet just so you can feel a sense of belonging. 

This is why it is so important to surround yourself with people you want to be like, whether it is literally in physical environment or curating what you consume over the internet.

It would be extremely difficult for me to make any meaningful progress in entrepreneurial ventures if all I am surrounded by is negativity and discouragement in that realm.

But if I am only allowing myself to consume the content of entrepreneurs on social media and surrounding myself with others in real life. If I hold entrepreneurs in a high regard with respect and choose to seek the validation of that group through my actions, so I can be part of it, then it is only natural for me to take the associated actions.

Again this validation usually won’t look like someone literally praising you or saying you are doing a good job.

It is more nuanced than that. You will feel a sense of belonging in the groups you seek this validation from because your actions and associated results line up with their MO.

As time goes on and the results become more obvious, or bigger scale then that validation can turn into praise, awards, status etc.

So the point is this. Whether you decide to or not, you will seek validation. Your job is to decide in every area of life, who’s validation would you like and what group would you like to be part of?

Do you want to be with the victims, who’s validation comes from one-upping how hard their life is without doing anything about it?

Do you want to seek the validation of mentally tough individuals, who have taken their pain, and turned it into their purpose?

Do you want to fit in with game changing billion-dollar entrepreneurs?

Or teachers that genuinely care about the kids they teach?

The groups you want to be part of is your choice, and that choice is evident through the actions you take. 

But for your own good, make sure you are very deliberate about who’s validation you seek. You might end up just like them, and that’s not always such a good thing. 

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