Seeking Validation For The Way You Are Keeps You The Way You Are - Grasshopper
If we can find a reason for our shortcoming and get people to agree to it, we have formed a club that forms a wall of defense that keeps us sheltered from progress.
I met a young couple while flying recently. She was a teacher and he was a recruiter – a very sweet couple. I offered that I taught seminars on smoking cessation and weight loss. The woman was intrigued. She asked a lot of questions and then said something like: “I really don’t need to lose weight but I have some negative family issues related to food that keep me from eating more healthy.” She then pointed in her husband’s direction as she looked for validation and said to me, “He knows what I’m talking about.”
I have no doubt that most of us have some negative upbringing regarding food. It’s just our caregivers passing along their preferences and prejudices. The reason that she has issues with eating “healthy” is more interesting than it is important. The way forward is determined by deciding how you get from where you are to where you want to go, not going back to how you got here.
You are already here. There is no need to go back and get here again. The seeking of justification for how you got here is looking through the telescope backwards. It provides distorted perspective. Reminds me of another story . . .
Years ago, a friend was having a problem with her teenage child who had left her home to live with her father. Her child was acting out in too many ways to mention and, according to my friend, her ex-husband was allowing her behavior to continue under his roof. I suggested that she and her ex get together and put aside their differences and look for a way to help their daughter, rather than assigning blame to each other. When their conversation went back in the direction of who was at fault, the conversation became about them and not about the daughter’s well being. It’s so easy to get sidetracked from the issue at hand – how to go forward.
Searching for a scapegoat is wandering in a field that won’t produce crops. Real growth begins in the current moment and is not assisted by assigning blame or justification. The quickest way to curtail or derail progress is to seek validation for your position rather than evaluating the options in front of you.
The past can provide a context but going back over it again and again keeps the focus from going in the most productive direction – forward.
The need to argue for how we got our limitations is the main culprit in keeping limits on our progress. When I look more closely at the justification phenomenon, I find that people are really looking for acknowledgement for their pain, not just validation of their limitation. They want their story acknowledged. WARNING: If that takes longer than five minutes, you are doing them a disservice.
If you truly want to assist them, you can’t stay with the story. You may be considered a good friend but you won’t be helping them. You’ll just enable them to stay unable.
How you got here is a matter for the historians; taking steps forward is an action that allows you to make new history, rather than justifying and re-creating your past.
All the best,
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