The Opposite of Self-Judgment Is Self-ValidationBy Phyllis
April 02, 2008
Not judging ourselves is not the end of the journey. Learn what comes next.
A lot has been written on this website about the addiction to self-judgment, the belief that if we criticize ourselves enough, eventually we will become okay. We all have to learn that when our wounded self shows up or, indeed, whenever we do not succeed by our own “rules,” it’s just information, no judgment required. I think I had pretty much gotten that. I was able to operate in the no-judgment zone. Recently, as a result of the sometimes frustrating efforts of the people at the Advanced Intensive (and I might add the efforts of people in intensives over the years), I finally understood that receiving validation is one of the basic needs of a child, of my child. Validation is seeing the wonderful qualities of a little one and actually telling him or her that you see them. It is not abstract. Validation is essential, so essential that if we don’t get it, as I did not, our wounded selves will continue to seek it.
I was seeking it by offering information, by trying to help. The information was probably fine, but because I was giving my little girl away every time, it did not feel good to anyone. In real life when you pull on people to get validation, you can find people who will go along with it. At an intensive, I did not. As a result of the feedback, I was finally able to identify the feeling, almost a high pitched whine that comes when I try to get validated by others, the feeling that I am not quite there, because I am not. The thing is that even when I got the validation from outside, the whine did not go away. It was like junk food. It does not satisfy. I went back to being little and saw that I was consumed by the continuous struggle for validation. I was able to help my little one see that my parents themselves had not been validated and that the fact that she was not being validated had nothing to do with her worth. Suddenly, it was as if she had popped out of a husk, she was just okay, just there.
Did my wounded self disappear immediately? No. I still need to learn about validating myself. I want to give you an example of something that happened to me later, because I think it makes what I am learning to do perfectly clear. When I am out in public, I smile at people a lot. I have thought of this as bringing good energy to people and imagined that I was not attached to whether or not they responded. Actually, I was pulling for validation. At the airport, coming home from the intensive, I smiled at someone. I don’t even remember if he smiled back or not, but what I do remember is telling my little girl “You have a wonderful smile” and that after that, not only did it not matter whether the person responded, but I felt happy, happier than I would have if there had been a returning smile. I am noticing this and noticing times when the “whine” shows up and remembering to immediately tune into what I need to say to validate myself. It is actually very joyful. Self-judgment is criticism. Not judging myself was a kind of silence. Validating myself is praise. Something I never got growing up.
Another thing that I have noticed which is very surprising is that I am no longer as tolerant of people who are pulling on me. I had still been willing to trade being pulled on for someone letting me pull on them for validation. Now it feels awful because I can feel their inner abandonment-the very thing I inflicted on my fellow Inner Bonders at the intensive.
A lot has also been written on this site about gratitude and how it opens the heart. What I have realized is that self-validation is a form of gratitude, self-gratitude and I am happy to practice it. I am so grateful to everyone for not allowing me to do my addiction, for giving me the mirror that I needed to finally get this.
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No one can give you your emotional freedom. You will feel emotionally free when being fully yourself is more important to you than controlling how others feel about you. Today, notice how you may be limiting yourself to gain approval or avoid rejection.
By Dr. Margaret Paul