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April 17, 2023

Earn Respect Not Validation

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As humans we live very social lives. Originally our well-being was dependent on the safety and shared resources of a tribe, which evolved into economies, culture, and now virtual settings. Throughout each chapter of human existence the nature has been the same - We have a baseline need to belong. 

We want to have friends, be seen, and enjoy strong relationships. We want to be understood and appreciated for our uniqueness. This is so central to our existence that recently the longest longitudinal study in history confirmed that social connectedness is the greatest contributing factor to our well-being.

Sometimes people wish they didn't care so much about what other people think, but I disagree. Our interest to prioritize and maintain strong social connections is fundamental to our success as a species! As individuals, humans are relatively weak. But collectively, we are strong!

What most people are actually alluding to is that sometimes this need is expressed in unhealthy ways. In order to appease our ego we seek validation, approval, and acknowledgment from others as a means to confirm our importance. 

But when this happens it is superficial, like a bug bite that you scratch to feel good in the moment only for it to itch more a few minutes later. This may cause you to do things out of integrity, or that aren’t in alignment with who you want to be, because you need quick access to the validating spike of feeling important.

What we’re actually searching for, that leaves a deeper and lasting impression, is other people’s respect. This is a level of acknowledgment that goes beyond what you do and into who you are. It’s a comment on your character and your values. For obvious reasons this is much more difficult to earn, and in a society that is addicted to immediate gratification, sometimes we don’t even have the patience to get there.

But your relationships and connectedness to others will feel so rich, so pure, so potent, when you get to that level of respect. And it’s okay to feel good about it when you get there because it will inspire you to make someone else feel that way themselves, and the ripple effect can continue. 

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