A question for you…..
How do you know when you’ve done a really good job? Or, how do you know when you look really good in a new outfit?
Some of you will say it’s because your boss or customer has told you so and you’ve received really good feedback. Or that your husband, friend or parent told you. These people are “external validators” - they rely on external validation to confirm how well they look or how well they are doing.
Others will reply with something along the lines of, “I just know, I know I have checked the work through thoroughly, that I’ve put in lots of hard work and effort, I’ve taken my time and I just know it is good” or, “I just feel really comfortable in the outfit and look in the mirror and if I love what I see, then that’s good enough for me".” They are internal validators - relying much more on their own internal measures of how well they are doing in life.
There is no right or wrong, but the downside to needing largely external validation comes when you are in a relationship with someone that just doesn’t naturally give compliments, or work for a boss that doesn’t see the need to give constant feedback/praise, or doesn’t know how. In these instances, we feel unsure of how we are doing, we can feel lost, uncomfortable, vulnerable, uncertain, very unhappy, and starved.
So when working with clients who feel this way because they rely heavily on external validation and just aren't receiving it, then we work towards them strengthening their “internal validator,” or internal coach or friend. The client learns to self coaching each time they have completed an important task by asking themselves the following questions:
1. What did I do well?
2) What, if I could turn the clock back, would I do differently?”
3) What will I do more of in the future?
At first this feels difficult and uncomfortable, but with time it becomes easier and incredibly helpful. By building and strengthening their "internal coach muscle" they are far less dependent on others and much better equipped with increased confidence and self acceptance. Don't get me wrong, most of us enjoy receiving the odd compliment, appreciation or praise, but once we have learnt to do that genuinely for ourselves, then we can take that internal coach with us wherever we go and use it with whatever we are facing and that has to be a good thing.