Plagued by External Validation
“Am I enough?” A question we all at one point ponder. For perfectionists, this question is contemplated longer. And then after a long assessment, the P will answer the first question unconsciously by asking another, “How do I become enough?” The thing is.. You already are.
Since childhood we have all been conditioned to behave in a way that is socially acceptable. Conditioning occurs mainly by our parents or caregivers who serve as our initial social circle. If you learned that the only way to get validation or attention from your parents was to be successful, chances are this has carried over into your adulthood. Through this social circle we learn to admire recognition and rewards. Recognition and reward at its foundation is harmless. It is the acknowledgement of something’s existence, validity, or legality. Sounds great right?
Recognition can be granted in two ways, internally and externally. Think of the two forms as yin and yang. Balanced, both are great. The issue arises when internal recognition is placed in the backseat and external validation assumes its place in the front seat.
Plague by external validation looks alot like telling yourself the following and believing it.
I will be enough when I get into college.
I will be enough when I have X amount of money.
I will be enough when I make partner.
I will be enough when I pay off my credit cards.
I will be enough when I have X amount of friends.
And the list, as you can imagine, goes on －but remember, as I said in the beginning, you already are enough! Internalizing statements such as above, only shows the weight one attributes to the approval of others and authority figures.
The dilemma with external validation as a sole motivator is that the bar is always moving. After one goal is met, you either A. have to sustain and operate at the same capacity it took to meet said goal, or B. find another bigger and better goal. Now this is not to be confused with ambition. Ambition is completely acceptable. Things go awry when the P hyper focuses on the next source of external validation rather than internalize their achievement.
James Baldwin once said, “To be black … in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” I find this too to be applicable to being a perfectionist. As a P, you are more often than not seeking approval and acceptance by external validators. You were bound to go nuts about it all one day. So let's do something different, lets no longer give a fuck, let’s enjoy the ride to success and internalize our greatness along the way. More on that later.
－Torre Boyd LPC