Validation: Are You an Ugly Duckling?

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Here’s a story to illustrate the pitfalls of trying to fit in.

How we view ourselves is pivotal to how we relate to others. But the difficulties in getting validation that way can lead to something better.

So many people look for validation from others, as if they believe it will make them feel better, or try to fit in and find that is hard on them. Why is that?

If you’ve never heard the story of the ugly duckling, it goes like this.

The Story of The Ugly Duckling

One of the ducks in the pond was always getting teased, and it made him sad. Firstly, he was larger than the others, and, comparing himself with them, he thought he was decidedly ungainly. He felt worse still when they shunned him and took himself away from them, hiding in the reeds.

He spent his time alone, eating when hungry and growing bigger. One day, he caught sight of his reflection in the water and was astonished.

He wasn’t a duck at all, but a great big beautiful swan!

He didn’t need to try to fit in with the other ducks, thinking he ought to be like them and feeling something was wrong with him. Instead, he did the right thing by spending quality time alone, growing up. 

The result was that in realising who he was, there was no need to fit in or compare himself with others. Just be what he was.

How This Offers You Validation

I don’t know if that story resonates with you at all. If you can see yourself in there as our hero at all? But ask yourself this one question. “Is there anyone like me?”

It’s a pretty central theme in Person-Centred Therapy that we have a concept of an ideal self – who we would like to be.

The problem is if we think we want to be like someone else, then we are unhappy with who we think we are.

I don’t know many people who are happy with themselves. However, it’s an imaginary view of self because that’s something we can’t see. We can’t see ourselves from the outside, and we can’t see ourselves as others see us. Such uncertainty causes anxiety because of a lack of confidence, especially if we’re too reliant on others to give us validation.

In counselling, I aim to soothe those concerns by sharing with you my open and honest impression of what my heart tells me it’s seeing. My approach is also compassionate, so I listen to my “gut feeling” – the “still quiet voice within”. I do that because it’s infallible. It might not be what you think you’d like to hear, but it will validate the truth I see in you.

Lose The Need for Validation – You ARE Enough

The other aim is to feel less anxious and to do that, you need to get a “sense of self”. Then you won’t have to rely on the opinions of others or try to make sense of their responses to you. That’s a hard thing to do. The reason is that other people have problems themselves, errors of perception, and they’re often distracted or preoccupied with something.

So, don’t worry if you feel out of place or less than other people. Just ponder on finding who you really are and be that person. 

You are who you are – unique and incomparable.

Main photo by Unsplash

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