Do You Seek Validation Through Analysis Too?
During one of my first sessions with my therapist, she mentioned that I seemed like I was seeking validation, and we got into a deep conversation about it. While I agree that constantly seeking validation of others is a way to set yourself up for pain, we also discussed how forms of validation are necessary. The problem that I run into, and you might be able to relate, is that I’m extremely analytical. It’s a human need to be validated in various ways because how else will we know that we’re on the right path?
Weight Loss Validation
One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of validation is my weight loss journey. For most of us, when trying to lose weight, we turn to the scale for validation. Watching that number go down is a sign that we’re on the right track. It’s really simple. If you step on the scale and you weigh less than the last time, it’s validation that what you’re doing is working, so you know to keep doing what you’re doing. If the number goes up, it’s a sign that you’re doing something wrong.
Simple…or is it?
Something I learned in a weight loss program that I was in was that a scale is one of the worst ways to keep track of your weight loss journey because there are so many factors. The first one is that muscle weighs more than fat, and building muscle helps burn fat. So the scale may say that you’re gaining weight, but you’re losing fat, which is the overall goal.
The other ways I was taught to gauge my weight loss journey was by how I feel, look and how my clothes fit. Feeling healthier is a clear sign that things are going well, and if you notice changes when looking in the mirror, you can tell things are going well. Since I’m always on camera and editing my videos when Zach is unavailable or I feel like editing, I can see the changes in my face for better or for worse. Noticing how my clothes fit is another great way to see how things are going.
The thing is, even when taking the scale out of the equation, there are other forms of validation I look for. Again, how else will we know that we’re on the right path?
Seeking Validation at Work
If you get anxiety like I do, working at a traditional job can bring up intense fears of getting fired. This is something I struggled with constantly at work. The anxious mind goes to crazy places. A boss saying they want to speak with you can spiral into thoughts about getting fired, not making money, not being able to pay your bills, buy food, losing where you live, your transportation and much more. So, logically, how do we combat this? I’d think through validation.
We crave validation at work because it helps set our anxieties at ease. Having our boss compliment our work or even our work ethic helps to calm down the voice in our head that we’re going to get fired. One of the best ways to decrease cognitive distortions is to separate the truth from the false. While my mind says that my boss hates me and that I’ll get fired, the logical part of my brain can say, “No. Your boss compliments your work all the time, so you’re fine.”
Another form of validation at work is through raises and promotions. When we get raises and promotions, it’s another form of validation that we’re doing a good job. It’d be insane to think we’re going to get fired right after a raise or a promotion. So, even at work, we have multiple ways that we seek validation, but it helps us know that we’re on the right path.
My Current Struggles with Validation
My primary goal with my YouTube channel is to help people. After nearly dying and then overcoming my addiction, I’ve found purpose in helping others. I no longer struggle with having an existential crisis because I wake up in the morning with one goal in mind, and that’s to make a positive impact on someone’s life, and for an entire year, I was doing just that. How do I know? Because I analyze everything to make sure I’m on the right path.
The picture above is a random screen shot I took. I just clicked on my videos page (page 6 to be exact, which was prior to all the drama), and I could see that I was on the right path. Based on the views and the like/dislike ratio alone, I could see that that the videos were being well-received. So, now that YouTube is a major part of my job, I could see that I was doing a good job.
But was I helping people? The data from the above screen shot doesn’t give a clear picture of that, so we go to the comments section.
The screen shots from above are from four completely different videos, and the final one is from a YouTuber I made a video about. Through all of the analysis, I had the validation that I was on the right track.
I felt the need to write about this because A) writing is very therapeutic for me and B) I was just talking to a mentor who asked me, “Honestly, why do you need the validation?”, and I answered honestly. I haven’t been able to find an alternative way to measure what I’m doing is impacting people in a positive way. With weight loss, I had a variety of other options to gauge whether what I was doing was working or not, but with my career, now, it’s not that simple.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of people who still leave heartwarming comments, or DM me or email me thanking me for my work, but I think it might be because the scale tipped the other direction. Prior to all of this drama, I was still getting hate comments and videos made about me here or there, but now, the scale has tipped the other way. Due to the negative bias of the mind, it’s easy for me to see all of the negative because right now, there are far more negative things to analyze than there are positives.
So WTF is the Solution?
Now that I’ve processed some of this through writing (which I highly suggest you try doing it too), I’ve been seeking validation through my work far too much lately. I might try seeking validation through in-person relationships more to try and fill up my “life purpose fuel tank”.
Yesterday I spoke at a high school again to help kids with a mental health project their working on, and today I’m going back. The kids are truly grateful for me coming in there and it’s great to see their engagement. It’s something I miss from working at the treatment center. Whenever I would do a group, I could look into the audience, and see heads nodding as if to say, “I can relate to what you’re saying, and it’s giving me things to work on.” That type of relationship is something I haven’t been able to replicate through my efforts to reach more people through outlets such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
I also need to work on appreciating the people in my life even more and practice more gratitude. I have an incredible son, an amazing girlfriend and awesome support group. Although I spend time with each one of them, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to be more mindful and grateful for the human connection I have with the people in my life. Seeking out who I can assist by asking the simple question of, “How are you doing?” and seeing if I can assist in any of their struggles.
And, after writing that last paragraph, I realize I need to get back into the practice of self-love and self-compassion. Someone I should definitely appreciate helping is myself. I teach people all the time to congratulate themselves on caring about their mental health and making an effort to improve it. Working on oneself is one of the greatest forms of self-love, and self-compassion involves cutting yourself a break, and I think that’s been missing lately.
Thank you for reading this, and hopefully if you can relate to it, you took away some things to work on as well. We’re all in this journey of self-improvement together, and this too shall pass.