Importance of Recognition/Validation as a Human

recognitionMy son just passed a full board management review and did so with sailing colors. It was a big step in his management training with the company, which now allows him to be able to advance into other management positions. It has been an ongoing 2 year effort so big kudos to him.

Celebration was in order, therefore, I offered to take him to lunch at a favorite spot, which he accepted. Once there we re-hashed the scenario of the review and the excitement in his voice/body language was so palpable. Just watching and hearing him made me think back to the years when he was a little tyke and showed such enthusiasm/yearning for every endeavor. I was caught up in the moment and didn’t really give him much validation at the time, which I know bothered him.

During my childhood years, we sought out recognition in many ways, such as, receiving a good job compliment when a project was completed. We didn’t rely upon our parents as much for recognition, but moreso from extended family, church, schools and/or the community. With 8 children in our family, we didn’t have much one on one time with our parents, as there were generally more group validation/comments, with so many typically involved in everything we did. It wasn’t common to seek their attention unless you needed specific help on something. We were brought up not to draw attention to ourselves in those days. We mainly figured out who we were through out relationship with others.

I was once involved in a sensitivity group during my nursing training, at a large metropolitan psychiatric center. During a particular session, there was a young, handsome, intelligent and well spoken man in the group, in addition to a few others who didn’t stand out as much as he did. I learned a very valuable lesson that day. The group interaction centered around helping the softer spoken members deal with their issues, with the out spoken young man constantly interjecting. Eventually, the group turned on this young man secondary to his interferences. In the end, it came out from this young man, that no one ever validated his thoughts or issues. He went on to inform us that just because he looked and acted like he had his act together, we were wrong in our mental perceptions of him. He clearly stated to the group that he probably needed more recognition than the rest of the group as people generally ignored him as he “looked too successful” to them.

This experience was not related to normal every day people but moreso to people with mild pathological behaviors. It still remains a real eye opener for me and is something I’ve carried with me for decades because it taught me to look a little deeper into people than just looking at the surface. It also demonstrated to me that the underdogs weren’t the only ones needing help or validation. I still refer back to this when observing and listening to people, realizing that what you see isn’t always what’s on the inside. It turned on a light bulb for me and I hope that it will also help someone else in refining their relationship skills.

Getting back to the visit with my son, I realized later that I was looking at the surface and not beyond during our conversation. My son was sharing a very important moment with me in his development as an adult and I missed the cue. We all need validation/recognition in our lives in helping us figure out who we are and we typically seek it out from people we trust. The key is to remember the importance of really listening (non distracted) in all our relationships and with empathy, for those vying for, as well as relying on our trust.

 

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