I once worked for a rather abusive woman who constantly berated, belittled and badgered her employees -- me included. She'd toss out barbs and insults like slings and arrows, the wind vane of blame pointing only in one direction -- and it wasn't hers. If any of us sought to set the record straight, or stand up for ourselves, we were chastised and told in no uncertain terms that we were insecure whiners who should appreciate we had a job in the first place.
Now, you may ask why we'd stay in a job like that in the first place. I didn't for long. My co-workers stayed on a little longer. We all figured out that sometimes victims get confused. Sometimes victims actually start to believe their abuser, and we were victims of a very real type of emotional abuse. Besides, good jobs were hard to come by at the time.
Before I left the situation for good, I did let the old boss have it once I got my purse and walked out. She stopped me, and we had a long talk about her behavior. She told me she knew she could be abrupt, even rude, and that it all stemmed from her childhood, that growing up she never felt validated by her parents. As a result, she'd become defensive, demanding, and even demeaning to anyone she came in close contact with. I didn't argue with her, but accepted her apology, and to this day, I feel sympathy for her.
Why do we seek to be validated from other people? As if our very worth comes from the approval of someone who is just as scared and screwed up as we are? And no matter how good anyone looks on the outside -- no matter how calm, cool and collected, they are just as scared, and often even more screwed up than it shows on the outside.
My husband likes to tell the story of how when he was in the 1st grade, his teacher would ask the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. All around him, kids would say things like policeman, fireman, nurse, and teacher, but my husband really wanted to be a Beatle when he grew up. Yes, a Beatle, as in John, Paul, George and Ringo. He was a music lover from the get-go and all he ever thought about was becoming a successful musician, even as early as grade school.
But when his teacher called on him, he was too embarrassed to tell the truth and instead sought the acceptance and validation of others. He answered "Fireman," even though he had no intention, or desire, to be one. Still, even in childhood, the pressures of fitting in and being loved and accepted often outweigh our ability to stay true to who we are and express the gifts God gave us.
My husband did not become a fireman. Nor did he ever become a Beatle. But he did become a musician, and a successful one at that. He may have put off a lot of people with his choice, but he also received a lot of love and acceptance from the folks who really counted -- the ones who truly cared about him and allowed him to be himself. When we seek validation from others, we rarely get it... until we finally get to that point in life where we don't want it anymore.
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How can we ever expect to be fixed by broken people who lack the skills and self-knowledge to fix their own lives? Yet we often put the opinions and feelings of others ahead of our own, and when they don't agree with us, or give us the hand-clapping and applause we so desperately need, we go screaming and running from the stage, certain they are right and that we are useless. No other person can make you whole; in fact, they can often make you crazy. Remember, hurt people hurt people.
It is human nature to want to please others. Acceptance is often mistaken for love, and we will do anything to be accepted, even if it means not being true to ourselves. The irony is, when we stop seeking outside validation is usually when we find it. Look at Jesus as the perfect example of someone who didn't give a hoot what others thought of him, yet went on to become one of the most honored, loved and revered human beings to walk the planet.
Doesn't it always seem that when you try to make others like you, they usually end up not liking you? And yet the minute you decide that you will just be yourself come hell or high water, they come around and tell you how great you are. That's when you suddenly realize that no one else's validation really matters but your own, and that as long as you like you, other people's opinions of you are none of your concern.
To look to another human being for the love, trust, security, and worth we so desperately seek is to be ultimately disappointed. Our families and friends can indeed bring joy and love into our lives, expanding our ability to be human and our capacity to give and receive. But they can't save us. At least, not in the way we want to be saved.
They aren't saviors. They're people just like you or me, who can only find their own true sense of self and validation from the inside out, not the outside in. We must stop weighing our self-worth on the shoulders of others. We are already validated by something much deeper and much more empowering.
Think of it as having our own permanent parking spot on the lot of life, and we don't ever have to get our ticket validated. The stamp of God is already on it, assuring us our worth.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Looking For God in All The Wrong Places
by Rev. Marie Jones.
By revealing the detours, pitfalls, and roadblocks along the path to union with the divine, this enlightening and entertaining book provides a powerful navigational tool spiritual seekers can use to avoid looking in the wrong places and get to where God can truly be found.
About the Author
Rev. Marie Jones is an ordained New Thought minister and author of over three dozen inspirational gift books, as well as the producer/creator of an award-winning children's video, Gigglebug Farms, and a mother to boot. Books published: "Looking For God in All The Wrong Places," Paraview Press. "Bless This Marriage," "Simple Wisdom," "God Bless America," PIL. Visit her website at www.MarieDJones.com