Back in my article about how to achieve happiness in life, I added something that seem very relevant to today’s times: the search for validation. Many have opined that this kind of search is the cause of a lot of problems in society. People today, such as millennials, just accept that validation is a need. But, is it?
This TED talk has an interesting explanation about the search for validation, calling today’s society as the Search for Validation Society.
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My take-away from this is that we are not entitled to validation. We have no right to demand it from others. We look for it because we are deceived by a supposed “inner” desire to be loved and wanted. But that inner desire could be much more, and could actually be sinister: “loved” and “wanted” could actually mean “worshiped” and “pampered.” The “hurt self” is actually be the bloated ego in disguise.
I said in an earlier article that the search for validation is a product of survival mentality. Primitive societies had the practice of tossing out or killing people they believe would be useless or harmful to their survival. They would look for reasons to “invalidate” such people. For example, people with disabilities or disease (which is the origin of the word “invalid” when referring to people with disabilities). In a way, this makes the search for validation an offshoot of the fear of being eliminated as an “undesirable.” Today, under the human rights principles generally accepted in modern societies, elimination is considered wrong. But this feeling of wanting to put out of the way anything and anyone that displeases us lingers in human nature, since it remains connected to our fight or flight reactions.
When you think about it, all that stuff “stay positive,” “don’t worry” and other motivationals are results of needs to cope with fear of non-validation. If people just respected each other by default, and they recognized that there was no need for validation, then neither would they need these motivationals.
The TED Talk above does give another frame to it, one that jibes with the idea of being “tossed out.” The search for validation is also a result of the search for belongingness. We want to belong to society. Be respected, be treated well, not be hindered, not be harassed, not be thrown out, and more. We don’t need to scamper for validation as a means to feel belongingness. We already belong to society.
Filipinos especially, however, seem to easily give in to survival mentality. Hence the strong desire to be dominators or lords; or perhaps, they don’t want to belong to society, they want society to belong to them. hero worship and the boastfulness of Pinoy Pride are products of this, although the freeloader attitude is a contributor as well. The vehemence of Pinoy Pride projection is like trying to find a desperate rationale to keep alive. Even feelings of inferiority are likely a product of this. And perhaps they (including SJWs or “social justice warriors”) violently abhor having someone else with opposite beliefs or lifestyles belonging to the same society as them. Their security is threatened, so they seek to “invalidate” those others. Filipinos with this attitude don’t look proud or like heroes, but more like desperate refugees. It’s a prehistoric, rights violation-encouraging attitude that should be tossed out.
This may sound cruel, but I see nothing wrong with refusing people the validation they expect. For example, someone wants you to acknowledge her as the most beautiful person in the world. Some people will tell you, play along, don’t make trouble. But you prefer to tell the truth, even if you just say that you disagree. You didn’t do anything. That person is certainly doing wrong if they rail at you in anger or call you a bully for not catering to their silly validation fishing. They’re the ones harassing you, not the other way around. It is quite the risk to take when dealing with someone else’s search for validation. But if you prefer to uphold the truth, by all means, do it. If you still want give in to that person’s demands, it’s your call. But ego-feeding is not an entitlement or right, and refusing to feed other people’s egos is a right.
One recent case that I have appropriated to represent how seeking validation can go wrong is when a blogger named Elle Darby ranted in a video after being refused a requested free stay in the White Moose Hotel in Dublin. The owner of the establishment, Paul Stenson, also banned “social media influencers” from his place – unless they would pay, I would assume. This would cause “social justice warriors” to go up in arms. But it seems Stenson received more support than hate messages. A lot of these messages agree with my earlier assertions of “social justice warriors” being extortionists. Also, the practice of wanting free stuff in exchange for a favorable review deserves strong questioning. And if this is the kind of “validation” they want, it’s not valid, but abusive. These types of brats are often more aggressive in seeking to “invalidate” others. They want their “critics” shut up, their free speech obstructed, or they bully others while pretending to be the bullied.
If people ask me, what should I do then instead of search for validation? Self-satisfaction. The only one who knows how you can be satisfied is yourself. Thus, you cannot expect other people to fill this for you. You have to do it yourself. Also, we don’t need to seek others’ opinion. For example, you don’t need to run a vote on whether you should have a haircut or not. Habitually running what you want to do through a vote reflects lack of ability to decide properly, and could mean you don’t know what do do with your life.
You don’t need to look for validation because you are already accepted or validated in society. You are accepted because you are already allowed to work and take part in society’s day-to-day doings. We should be thankful that we are not in backward societies that still seek to eliminate the “invalid.” Yet the problem is when people want praises or adulations for validation, they are in effect saying that society’s acceptance of them is not enough. So they want more. But then they are wanting too much. If you accept that you are already accepted, then you will not want too much and will cause no trouble.
It’s much better to opt out of the Search-for-Validation society. Being part of it only leads to unhappiness. The search for validation does not help us find meaning or self-esteem, but instead turns us into emotional basket cases. It bloats our sense of self-worth and makes us moochers; indeed, I would say seeking validation is another kind of mooching. We don’t need the approval or validation of others, because, simply, no one has the right to validate or invalidate us. Just the same, let us not validate or invalidate others just by our whims. Mutual respect by accepting that we and our lives are already valid will lead to more security and happiness. And if you prefer to play the validation game, then in a sense you are also approving of the elimination game too, which could lead to violating others’ rights.
Let me end with another talk on how much better it is to give up the search for validation, from someone who is easier on the eyes than Darby:
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.