Today was the first time in a long while that I felt truly happy, satisfied and grateful in my present reality.
I was walking the aisles of the Hillsdale Mall at 8:00pm with my mom by my side, when I suddenly felt totally at peace with the world and my place in it. Temporarily removed from the self-imposed pressure to perform and achieve, I enjoyed some mother-daughter bonding time at the shopping center in which I grew up. It’s true that sometimes the greatest happiness lies in the simple, seemingly insignificant moments. Like going window shopping on a Monday night with your most beloved person in the world.
Over the years, I seem to have contracted the idea that I will be happy once I deem myself a “successful” person. I now realize what a distortion this kind of thinking is. Really, true happiness stems from self love, which unfortunately, I don’t have much of at this point.
But I’m working on it. One day, I hope to develop an unshakeable sense of self worth, removed from my achievements and failures and others’ perception of me. I aim to ween myself from the need for external validation as a marker of my worth. I want to feel good about myself without needing others’ approval. This is my long-term goal, and when achieved, I will be empowered to the highest level of spiritual oneness.
As a start to reaching my goal, I request a somewhat strange favor from those whom I interact with in my daily life. I entreat you all to, as much as you can, refrain from offering me compliments or validation. The idea of this exercise is to condition me out of my need for external validation as a means of feeling good. Each time I receive a compliment, I cling onto it like a drowning man offered a life vest, or a starved beggar finally given food. As does Advil or Tylenol treat physical pain, so do compliments and external validation treat my low self-esteem. Each validation gives me a surge of self-esteem boost; but the positive feeling attached to extrinsically-based self-esteem boosters never lasts long.
If I can learn to truly value and love myself from within, without others’ validation giving the me the illusion of confidence, I will have conquered my biggest demon of all– my need for others’ approval.