During a coaching session recently, a client used the phrase “validation machine.” What a great phrase! She spoke about what constitutes her validation machine, such as praise from a more senior colleague and younger colleagues seeking her out for advice and guidance.
As she spoke, I pictured this intricate Rube Golberg-esque machine, creating the validation to fuel and source this brilliant, successful, warm and powerful woman. We talked about the pitfalls of external validation generally and the more specific costs to her of relying on the machine to create self-worth.
I’ve been thinking about the coaching session and about my own “validation machine.” Mine looks like a friend seeking my counsel, my husband expressing pride in my accomplishment or complimenting me, a client sharing the difference coaching has made or one of my daughters telling me I’m a good mother.
I think we all have validation machines of some kind. In my view, there’s nothing wrong per se with being sourced by external validation. But here are my questions about the machine, and the impact of reliance on it: 1) what happens when the machine is off or isn’t producing “enough”? 2) does the machine actually fill the need?
The issue, to my mind, is over reliance- and even dependence- on it. If we rely exclusively on something outside of us to make us feel worthy and whole and validated, what state are we in when it isn’t available? Moreover, in my experience, no amount of external validation can fill our worthiness gaps. We may look to make that machine work harder to produce, but it will not result in true satisfaction.
Our work is to generate that validation ourselves. Our charge is to know who we are, love who we are, and to have a deep sense of our worth, regardless of anything outside of us.
That validation machine? Empower it! Use it! Enjoy the spoils it produces. And, for you and your life, learn how to relate to that machine as the icing on the cake, rather than the cake itself.Tags: Coaching, imposter syndrome, Life Coach, power, self-worth