Years ago, I had the opportunity to write a story, a reflective story of an experience I’d had in my younger years. My story was an intimate reflection of something that was dear to my heart. It took courage for me to put the words to paper.
I shared my story with people who were close to me. I asked for their insights and opinions. I believed I could trust and would handle my story with care. I was wrong.
In putting my story into the hands of others, I opened myself up to intentional criticism – which my friends took liberty in offering.
I was surprised by this response. I was hurt and felt mistreated in the way that they handled my story. They were dismissive and made demeaning remarks about different aspects of my story. All under the guise of “constructive feedback.”
It was a moment I’ll never forget. I had anticipated my creative writing being met with some curiosity and some level of critique, but did not anticipate these people taking a sucker punch to my gut in the way they that they did.
When I walked away from this experience, I thought to myself, “What was it that I was hoping to receive?” “Why do I feel so beaten down by what just happened?” And, it was in that moment that I realized I that I had been looking for validation. I was attaching my value to the validation I’d hoped to receive. I was seeking validation from an outside source, rather than from within.
Seeking validation from others is almost always a guaranteed way to feel disappointment. Other people’s opinions of our “stories,” our “achievements,” our “journey,” doesn’t matter. It’s my opinion of what I do, how I show up, and what I accomplish, that should matter most.
While I’ve learned this lesson before, I had a moment of forgetfulness. In seeking validation from others, what I was really doing was assigning more value to what their feedback of my work might be, rather than meeting myself from a place of peace, reassurance, confidence and validation.
While the experience create an unpleasant wave of emotions, it was was a valuable reminder that my validation, my self-esteem and my worthiness always comes from within. I am in charge of safe guarding and taking care of my own emotional well-being. I will always be thoughtful to the fact that the opinions of others are simply that. Just opinions. How I regard, cherish and treat my creations, my self-worth and contributions to the world is what matters most.