I come from the world of Appreciative Inquiry where we believe that noticing what works well and expressing it, infuses any endeavor and project with positive and above all, generative energy.
I am a firm believer of this philosophy and a strong promoter of positive psychology. Heck, I use it in my daily work with clients.
But there is one little caveat that I would like to address today.
There are people who were never “seen”, let alone heard and understood when they were growing up. In fact, many of us experienced this not-being-seen to some extent. Which is why it feels so good to receive an (honest) compliment, recognition for a job well done. It builds us up and reinforces our self-esteem. It gives us energy and motivation to do more of what we were praised for.
So where is the problem? To put it simply: If and when we come to rely on that external validation too much, if and when we do what we do only to receive that positive attention from others, we are in deep trouble. Because, let’s imagine a period where none of that positive regard is forthcoming. When days and weeks go by when no one gives you a pat on the back. When, on the contrary, you face criticism or blame for something that occurred on your watch. What then happens? Chances are that your sense of self-worth begins to flag (or worse, goes to hell in a handbasket). You wonder whether you are good enough for anything. That’s when you need to roll up your sleeves, look in the mirror and tell yourself: No matter what happens, I AM GOOD ENOUGH.
To be sure, easier said than done. For many of us that need for external validation is so ingrained, so deeply seated in our bodies that it can take a while to come to that realization and to whole heartedly embrace it.
It often requires professional help. And if you are ready to start the process of embracing that precious, unique YOU that you are and to accept and love yourself wholeheartedly, you can always give me a shout.
In the meantime, you can try this beautiful trick (I learned from one of my masters). If you are a women, take your lipstick (I hope you have one) and write on all the mirrors of your house (Ok, one can do the trick): “I am enough.” Read and register it every time you look into that mirror; feel it in your body and see what happens over time. If you are a man, you will find your own strategies 😊.
Funny anecdote around that: I gave that advice to a client of mine who confessed that she had trouble with self-worth. The next time she came to my office, something had changed. Having dressed extremely conventionally before, she now was wearing rocker boots, a leather jacket, hair flowing, lipstick, eyes sparkling. “Wow,” I said, “what happened?” She smiled and said: “Well, I did what you said. I wrote it on my bathroom mirror. One day my adult daughter came home and saw this and she said, ‘But Mom, you are MORE than good enough!’”
Needless to say, this story sent shivers down my spine. And even though this validation came from the outside, it was more of a confirmation what my client had begun to believe in the inside. It helped her made that switch from frumpy to jumpy with joy about her newfound self-love and acceptance.
So, why don’t you give it a try yourself and see what happens. If you still would like some support, as I said, above you can always contact me here via my site.