One thing I struggle with is seeking validation. As a relatively normal human I am often seeking recognition that my emotions, thoughts and observations are legitimate. I seek validation that what I do is meaningful, that people care about what me, etc. There are two sources of this validation, internal and external and most of us are driven and receive mostly external validation.
Companies across the internet and off all know this, they feed off external validation. Validation that we are part of a group sells lifestyles, apparel, vacations and more. Social media feeds a huge validation addiction allowing people to broadcast thoughts and moments to the world, and with a simple like, view or retweet we get a tiny burst of validation
There is nothing inherently wrong with external validation. It’s a powerful motivator that we all need. A problem I see is that when we get a lot of this cheap external validation we struggle to develop and strengthen our internal self. The “I am doing this because I want to”, “These are my thoughts”, and “this is me” feelings do not come as easily from external sources as they do from reflection, purposeful work with trial and error and feedback.
Feedback? “But Aaron, that sounds external?” It may or may not be but I see a difference here. Feedback is an active form of validation and nothing says it is purely positive. Constructive feedback, thoughtful recognition of emotions or views and suggestions on ways to improve the self are more valuable then a simple like, retweet, or simple comment.
So here is is my call for you to validate me. Not with a like or a retweet but with feedback, thoughtful comments, critiques, criticisms and acknowledgement. I will not always get validation externally. But when I do I hope it can be meaningful or actionable.
What am I doing to limit external validation and improve internal validation?
- Posting less on platforms that optimize for self validation
- Turning off tracking and metrics on this blog
I have been posting very little directly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Instead I contact people directly or post on micro.blog. What does microblog do different? No retweets, visible followers or visible likes. Anything I post on there is mine and there is social validation but it is respectful and thoughtful.
Turning off metrics on blog allows me to ignore the “do people like this?” and enable “do I like this” I am writing for me. Of course I want validation but I want the majority to come from me. If I really make an impact or you have any feedback I would love to know but likes and retweets and page views are distractions and not important
I think this stance is a little radical but it has been valuable to me. I have been reflecting and tweaking my goals and habits, making sure they come from the self. Want to validate me? Do it if you want. If you do not validate me that is fine because have already validated myself.