Volume 3, Issue 9, September 2004
VALIDATION AND THE RAINBOW METAPHOR
In this edition of the Caravan I would like to look at how and why people act in a non-cooperative manner, so let’s get to it.
In my study, I found what most people want out of this journey is to be validated, loved, wanted and needed. We also need to be celebrated and appreciated. Think about what children do as they are developing. They are constantly shouting, “Mummy, daddy, look at me, look what I can do.” As parents, we hear this chant over and over again until (unfortunately) we turn off to the point that we don’t seem to notice or even care to validate their (our children’s) existence.
When our children are not being validated for doing something constructive and when they seem to get attention only when they do something destructive, guess what seems to escalate? Yes, you got it. Our children begin to act up, hence the ‘terrible twos’. My daughters didn’t seem to go through those ‘terrible twos’ because they were constantly celebrated and validated. Their mother and I knew how important it was to treat each of them as special. The worse thing we can do is criticize and compare. “Why can’t you be more like your sister, she never does that.” Each of us wants to be recognized as our own person celebrated as being special. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between being celebrated as special as opposed to being criticized as being different. “Why can’t you be like other kids?”
We must validate and celebrate so that we all can be the people we were meant to be. Every time we are criticized for being who we are, we look for other ways to be validated and many of those ways of seeking validation are not always in the spirit of cooperative action.
By the way, the reason I am dwelling on children is because we were all children once and we are who we are today because of the way we were either validated or criticized as children. Many of us were not allowed to be ourselves, to grow and develop as special and unique. Think about this; no, you can’t be you because you have to be what your family, your church, your God, your teacher, your friends, your boss, or your co-workers want you to be. Or is it because of what you think society wants you to be?
So, what do we do? We have no sense of self. We are constantly looking for validation and yet we have been told that we must “fit in”, “conform” and “deny ourselves” while our basic need is to be loved and accepted for who we are. Therefore, we try to go to the ‘right’ school, worship the ‘right’ God, join the ‘right’ team or club, find the ‘right’ life partner, have the ‘right’ career and raise the ‘right’ children (which in many societies means having boys not girls).
In our struggle to achieve what we perceive as ‘right’, we sometimes receive false validation, and because the validation is false, it does not reach the inner recesses of our hearts. Therefore, our relationships seem to come up short and we constantly look for something better. If we believe this is the best we are going to get, we tend to dominate or own the relationship as it becomes the only validation of who we are…My job…My wife…My husband…My kids…My house. What do you think causes a man (and it only seems to happen to men) to take his (ex)wife and children and blow them away, then kill himself in a murder-suicide?
When his wife told him she was leaving and taking the children, she took away his only form of validation, his only sense of who and what he is. If he couldn’t have ‘his possessions’…no one else would. The reason his wife was leaving in the first place was probably because of a lack of validation. It took a lot of courage to get to that point, for she probably took much abuse in order to have her validation of landing the ‘right’ husband and raising the ‘right’ family.
Validating and celebrating the individual is the key to good relationship management. When we get bored with a relationship (job, friend or lover) it is normally because we think they don’t care about us. Every time we act up or flex our muscle it is because we are tired of ‘being taken advantage of’. How many times have you heard this statement?
“I have to find myself.” Or, “I don’t know who I am or what I want.”
Some of you are thinking that we must have order. People just can not go around being who they were meant to be. We would have anarchy. We must sacrifice ourselves for the good of the whole. Let me use my Rainbow Metaphor to show you how cooperative action works in celebrating and validating the individual while still contributing to the whole.
When a red and a yellow (the individuals) come together to form the orange (the relationship), most of us feel that the red and yellow disappear in favour of the orange. Some marriage vows say, “two shall become one”. Just look at uniforms in schools and in the workplace. They define what we are and what we do, not who we are as individuals. Why do you think dress-down Fridays are so popular, so that people can be themselves.
In my model the red and yellow do not disappear in favour of the orange, as with a rainbow, all three individual colours exist together. And as with a rainbow, all three individual colours compliment each other. No colour tries to dominate or take over the other. No colour tries to criticize or change the shade or brightness of the other colour. All colours of the rainbow work together to validate and celebrate each other. When a colour stands alone it is a wondrous and beautiful thing. When many colours come together to form a rainbow, cooperative action occurs. There is no dominance, no ownership and no forced change. A balance and equilibrium is all that exists and therefore, cooperative action is created.
Start looking at the people in your life and help them to make their unique colour shine by validating and celebrating them as part of the rainbow. You will find that they in turn will validate and celebrate you. Keep in mind a good relationship with yourself is primary in creating cooperative action with others.
May your colour shine bright in the rainbow of life.
“You will be free to be the person you were meant to be once you allow all others the freedom to be the people they were meant to be.”
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