The inevitable downside to sharing your truth is that most people just don’t care. They don’t really want to hear your truth; they want validation for their own truth. Most of the time the only reason people listen, even a little bit, is because they hope to hear you speaking their truth back to them. It is interesting to see how people respond when you share something which they don’t agree with. You can tell a lot about people by how they respond to disagreements. Some respond with anger, some have a need to be right and will go to great lengths to discredit your message. Others instantly dislike you and discredit your message based on some imperfection they perceive in you. Some just get hurt, and suddenly you find yourself apologizing for sharing your truth or for not wording it just right so that others don’t feel threatened by it. All of these are emotional responses and should be identified as such. But their root often lies in that persons need for validation.
It’s important to understand that at a very deep level our brains are always seeking validation. Everyone is doing it; it is part of our human nature. Even if you have taught your ego to sit in the back seat, do you not still seek out like minds to commune with? Do you put on anything in your closet when you get dressed, or do you pick clothes that match the social activities for the day? Rationalize all you want, but on some level everyone is seeking validation.
And validation is not inherently wrong. Validation is our desire to fit in socially. There is safety in numbers, an instinctive reaction to this world which has brought our civilization to great heights… but also to great depths of control, domination, and lack. Validation is part of this human experience and our brains are hard-wired to seek it out in the world.
The trick about validation is like most of our consciousness; once we have become aware of it we can begin to use it more effectively. For example, when we first learned of the ego it was a bucking bronco in our lives, a wild inner child who frequently grabbed the wheel and wreaked havoc. Over time with effort, reflection, meditation and insight we tamed the ego so that we could make choices from a more grounded position in our being. So too will it be with taming our need for validation. The first step is to become aware of it. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can stop all your validation seeking; that would be like trying to convert a gasoline engine to electric – the solar panels just don’t fit in the gas tank! Instead, honor and embrace the validation seeking part of you. Use awareness to catch yourself in the act, and spend some time in self reflection working through these experiences. In time, with effort, and with awareness, you will begin to better understand your need for validation, and how to find balance in that need.
One aspect of our validation engines which is often overlooked is how it affects our ability to listen. When we hear someone’s truth which does not match ours, the validation machine begins whirring, churning out excuses and reasons why we shouldn’t listen. It is so important for us to become aware of this, because our need for validation can actually stop us from finding truth! If your unconscious desire for validation is greater than your conscious desire for truth, then who is running the show?
Once we become aware of our need for validation we can begin to adjust how we use that in our daily lives. Many of us believe right now that we are ‘above’ seeking validation. The truth often is that we have set up our environment in such a way that our validation alarms are not set off. We sequester ourselves in private groups, we veil our bad habits with privacy and solitude, we make a clean happy world where nobody disagrees with us. Now, I’m not suggesting that any of these things need to change this instant; I am simply pointing out that we need to be aware of these things so that we can find a healthier way to manage them. Change begins with us. Over time, by maintaining an awareness of this we can shift our energy from “I wonder if those people will like my idea” to, “I’m sharing this idea because it’s important, and I can feel my need for validation nipping at my heels. Down boy, it will be alright.” Get to know this need within you, for it has been your compass for a very long time. Honor that need, because it made mankind wonderful in so many ways, brought our civilization to dizzying heights. Make it your friend because it is a part of you. As long as your are in this body, your brain is going to continue seeking our validation – you can either learn how to dance with it, or be left on the sidelines.
If you’re afraid you won’t be liked by everyone – you’re right. That is the duality of this place hard at work. You cannot please everybody all the time. (Nobody can, it’s not just you.) But you can become aware of your innate need to try and make everyone like you, so that you can establish an effective balance in that experience. That balance will free up energy for you which can be applied elsewhere in your experience.