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Posts Tagged ‘Validation’

Lights On! Seeking Approval? Validation?

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Authenticity, Empowered by Choice, Lights On!


Let’s be honest. We often spend much of our time and energy seeking approval and validation. Our desire is to be well liked, (or appreciated, respected, needed, etc.,). It is often so strong that we can lose ourselves, and our values, in search of recognition, praise or simple affirmation. We fear rejection. We fear being put down, humiliated, disrespected., or criticized. Yet in the end we know that what counts is not at all what others think of us—it is about each of us accepting and loving ourselves—just as we are!

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” ~ William Shakespeare

You Are Not Alone….that inner child, once wounded….is a definite part of you!

Everybody’s psyche, according to psychology articles, gets victim-wounded somehow, someway…and usually prior to the age of 7. It is a wound that unconsciously becomes one we can long-carry with us; we try to smother it and rise above it as we move into adulthood. Yet those hurts, fears, humiliations and angers can form emotional baggage—of the clinging variety. (No one escapes the wounding).

Our inner child takes in an untruth….someone has said something mean/hurtful to us and as an authority over us, claims it is true, so your child mind concurs….”I’m not adequate, I can’t do it, I am stupid, I’m not smart enough, I’m not enough, I’m not liked, I’m not respected, I’m not good enough, I’m ugly, I’m unloved.” And then, as life plays out, those very wounds, if not dismissed immediately by one’s child-mind, (or balanced out by huge love, caring and nurturing), can get distorted, then reinforced by related rejections, exclusions, repetitions, etc., as time moves on.

All this easily connects to our self-esteem and our perceived self-worth…..all unconsciously.

Low-level simmering is happening on the inside!   If, for example, we don’t really believe that we are worthy on the inside, (worthy of achievement, applause, respect, praise, etc., because we’ve bought in to that deep wounding), then we’re always going to be seeking some degree of validation or appreciation or respect from others that tells us we are okay. The problem is that no matter how much others tell us that we did a great job, have their respect, are honored by our presence, appreciate our achievements, are loved, deep down we don’t believe it. (Unconsciously, we reject their attempts). So when we don’t get or when we dismiss the validation we are needing or unconsciously craving, then the simmering continues, and resentfulness and even anger can become part of this cycle. We become our own worst enemy—victims of playing out a story-line that holds no truth—and never did. We have to find our own ways of coping and rising above the old wounds.

How do you overcome this?   The number one answer is that you have to be AWARE of the elements of this cycle and all the places in your life where it shows up. For example, as a youngster I had the label of “loser” put on me when playing board games with older kids and it was humiliating. So much so, that today I rarely play board games. I am aware of the label. I am aware how often I have to tell myself, that “I’m okay, I can do this, I can muster the new courage to take on this new situation, task, career move, etc., and that I am not a loser, I’m a winner!”  I talk myself into overcoming the label that was erroneously implanted into my mind as a child.   I know it was a wounding, limiting label and I know that it does not represent who I am or what I am or how I am.    By recognizing the falseness of the label and the origin of the wound, I create the inner balm necessary to heal the wound…not just a bandaid, but a healing. I move forward, inspite of that old wounding—not allowing it to get the better of my present moment, not letting it erode my self-confidence or erase my joy.

Of course, this is a complex subject and just as there are negatives that we carry in our psyche, so there are positives. There are positive phrases that were told to you as a child….positive phrases that you bought into also…Can you remember them?   Positive phrases that have served you well!

Take some time to do some focused self-examination. Consider the phrases that you tell yourself, especially when you are stressed. What are the words you use when you self-criticize? (Where did they first come from?) You can get to the root of your destructive self-talk and then consciously work to erase/minimize it. You can integrate into your adult psyche and underscore the wonderful person that you are…as a human being, and an individual and in all that you do. Awareness is key. Affirmations provide you with a powerful way to freedom from that old emotional baggage! Here’s to your Awareness and your Affirmations!

Recommended reading: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Lights On!

Claire Knowles


(Claire Knowles is a distinguished career HR & Labor Relations Manager, author of two Amazon Best-Selling books, “Lights On! Illuminations to Move Your Life Forward”, and also “Can You See Them Now? Elephants in our Midst.”  See www.ClaireEKnowles.com for bio, consulting and speaking engagement info.)

Setting Boundaries

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Choice

Setting boundaries has been a topic that I’ve been contemplating and researching for some time. Indeed, setting boundaries was the topic I’d advertised as the intended focus for this issue of Lights On! Yet it took a situation with a colleague (within a professional setting) to bring this to the forefront (for me). I knew, in dealing with this specific situation, that somehow, I was a victim; I had allowed myself to be the victim and found myself feeling bad without knowing precisely why—without being able to articulate it. I just knew that I was definitely feeling small, feeling inferior and very confused as to how and why the victimization unfolded.

I found the book Nasty People…How to Stop Being Hurt by Them Without Stooping To Their Level (by Jay Carter, Ph.D. ©2003) to be most insightful.  I highly recommend this book to you—for helping to make the interactions you engage in along your life’s journey better. This column is wholly based on Dr. Carter’s important perspectives.

I underscore that this is about behavior—manipulative behavior—by people whose behavior is labeled “nasty”; as differentiated from the person.

Have you been hurt, betrayed, degraded, demeaned, diminished by a person whose behavior has been nasty? Perhaps its your boss, your parent, your spouse, a sibling, a colleague, a team-mate, or even someone you consider a friend. Whoever it is, he or she is an “invalidator”—one who feeds on your self-esteem, your self- confidence, your personal worth; one who causes confusion and uncertainty that is difficult to define; one who can cause mental anguish; one who can cause a gnawing unhappiness. You can stop being the brunt of this abuse (yes, abuse) and put an end to sneak attacks on your soul—while remaining a class act and without resorting to nasty tactics.i

The theme of the book (Nasty People) is “invalidation”—a term the author uses to describe “one person injuring or trying to injure another” (consciously or subconsciously). As Carter shares, an invalidation can range anywhere from a shot in the back to a “tsk, tsk” to a deep cutting remark. A rolling of the eyeballs can be invalidation and so can a punch in the nose. Yet it is usually the sneaky invalidators that cause the most damage. Destroying a person’s capability to be whole is probably worse than any physical damage any person can do to another.ii

Dr. Carter’s perspective is that “the major reason invalidation occurs so often is that it works (in the short run).

 What if the process of invalidation was exposed?

Dr. Carter goes on to say that “the big part of the cure for invalidation is achieved when we simply spot it. Remaining undetected and unchallenged is what gives invalidation its power.”

If invalidation didn’t work, nobody would do it!iii

Dr. Carter describes the various methods that “invalidators” have in their arsenal including:

  • Keeping the victim in a constant state of uncertainty
  • Projections – taking one’s own feelings and projecting them on to another in a negative way.
  • Generalizations – exaggerating small truths.
  • Judgment – some negative attribute the invalidator attaches to you.
  • Manipulation – bad control.
  • Sneak Attack – “I don’t want to upset you, but….”
  • Double messages – where the intent doesn’t match the words.
  • Cutting Communication – Cut-off before you finish answering; when your thoughts aren’t deemed worth hearing.
  • Building You Up/Then Cutting Your Down
  • The Double Bind – Damned if you do; damned if you don’t; (the lose-lose game).iv


As I looked at my personal situation involving the colleague, I realized that I was dealing with…

  • An invalidator who needs to be right;
  • An invalidator who is compelled to control.
  • An invalidator skilled in “cutting communication” – so effective that my voice was silenced.
  • An invalidator who uses suppressive mechanisms to chop away at my self-esteem; that is, to persistently deny and discount my input to an important discussion. And, I allowed this to happen! So, what can I/ other victims do?


Dr. Carter provided a host of coping mechanisms:

  • Not taking things personally – a secret of anger management;
  • Awareness of the bigger picture—maintaining the larger view;
  • Not losing one’s situational awareness—staying calm—seeing things for what they are.

But most important, Dr. Carter provides a roadmap to “confront” the person who invalidated you in such a way that you show you know exactly what he/she is doing. From the long, look-‘em-in-the-eye pause, to asking the invalidator to repeat the invalidation they just did (which exposes their tactic), to telling the truth about what one is feeling, to mirroring the projection.v

Dr. Carter notes that you can always “tell the truth” by looking at your feelings:

  • I feel embarrassed.
  • I feel angry that you said it that way.
  • I feel put on the spot.
  • I feel like I’m being cut off and that my input has no value.

No one can argue with the way you feel, because right or wrong, it is the way you feel. Telling the truth exposes what is happening and can stop the invalidation in its tracks.vi

Dr. Carter, in Nasty People, also asks the reader to realize that…

  • The invalidator is a personality—not a person. (Most invalidators are not in their nasty behavior mode all the time!)
  • As victims, we have to examine our own experiences, our own reactions, our own insecurities. We each make our own set of keys to life; we make each notch in each key from those experiences; and experience-based, imbedded defensiveness can surface at odd moments; we can make ourselves vulnerable—allowing the invalidation to happen. (I have to be aware of and responsible for my own insecurities and not play the blame game).
  • Invalidators usually look big but feel small. Paradoxically, they have low self-esteem but large egos.
  • Invalidators invalidate when they feel inferior or out of control—whenever their addiction says “feed me more control—more power—more rightness”.vii

The bottom line is that one doesn’t have to be a victim of invalidation—it can be unmasked for the manipulation that it is. It is every person’s duty to learn to recognize and divert or defuse the behavioral attack that devalues. Lights On!