I say some version of this all the time: “You are more than enough, just as you are.” I say it to myself, to my kids, to my friends and co-workers, and to you.
Of course, even though my head staunchly believes that, my heart likes to occasionally stand stubbornly suspicious. Yours?
We are so needy for external validation. My need for validation might look different than yours—some of us want validation that we are “pretty” and others want validation that we are “right” and others want validation that we are “important”—but I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone, in real life, that doesn’t seek it in some way. Maybe we seek it in the form of followers on social media or in the form of raises or in the form of praise. Maybe we seek it when we seek the attention of those around us—did you notice me? That thing I did? Maybe we seek it when inserting our voice into a conversation. But, we seek.
Because no matter what my head says, my heart still longs for some kind of recognition that I am seen and heard—that I’m making a dent in this world, that I make a difference.
It starts from infancy, this need. I see it in my children today—Mommy, watch me. Mommy, listen to me. Mommy, play with me. Mommy, wasn’t that trick cool? Mommy, aren’t I important? Mommy, tell me my ideas are good. Mommy, tell me how independent I am. Mommy, have sympathy for my injuries. Mommy, laugh at my jokes.
I guess in some ways that need never goes away. My son—only 4 years old—said “Mommy, you are stupid” last night during the typical bedtime showdown, and it walloped me on such an emotional level that you’d have thought I was back in high school and was just told that the entire 12th grade didn’t like me. Forget that fifteen minutes later we were snuggling on the front porch watching an epic summer storm light up the night sky, forget that he’s four and is just as likely to say how much he loves me, forget that I’m the mom for heaven's sake and not supposed to get personally affected by insults my children throw at me… in that moment my absurd need for validation that I was NOT STUPID was the loudest, and my own validation (Erika, c’mon) just didn’t cut it.
So beyond being satisfactorily “validated,” what am I really seeking when I post something on Facebook or when I submit an exciting new idea to my team or when I buy an over-priced shirt or when I angle for a compliment? What do I hope for when I convince you that I’m right? I think, ultimately, it’s just connection. We want to be in this world together, most of us, and want to feel like the collective community has our back.
So in the end I absolutely do believe that we all are enough, just as we are, and it’s important for us to believe in ourselves and our worth—relying on others to give us our “value” is dangerous and restrictive. On the other hand, human connection strengthens us too, and I think it’s important for us to remember that most everyone we meet would benefit from a little validation.
After reminding yourself that, indeed, you are enough… how can you remind someone else that they, too, are enough today?