When I was a young girl, my brother Sam would come home and tell my family how kids at school would call him names. My mother, the genius that she is, would tell him that if he ignored the children who were bullying him, they would stop. My brother and I thought the notion was ridiculous. He said he’d be called a wimp, and I agreed. But she stood firm and asked him to just give her advice a try. So he did, and lo and behold the bullies stopped bothering him. It wasn’t until this year that I really understood the logic that my mother used that night. My brother, by not acknowledging the verbal attacks, stopped validating their existence.
People need a reaction. We crave it. Every human needs reassurance and validation from another. Ever since I was a kid showing my mom my art projects I created at school, I would wait with baited breath for a reaction. If I didn’t get the attention I so craved, I would get desperate and try to get any attention I could. That often ended in a not-so-happy mother and a time-out for me. Still I can recognize the desire I felt for feedback. And not just positive, negative too on the odd occasion that it was my only choice.
Eli Wiesel, a famous author and survivor of the holocaust, once said ¨hate is not the absence of love, indifference is.¨ That perhaps is one of my strongest beliefs. Indifference prevents the validation that all of mankind so needs. Without feedback it is impossible to know if our message has been heard and taken into account. Validation is the reassurance that we have been heard, and that we do matter. I know that is why I seek validation from others; I need to know that even for a moment, I am important. And that I deserve attention however fleeting it can be. I need it, and I bet you do too.
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