When I worked in the corporate world, I was used to relying on praise and external motivation to fuel my drive. I was always told what a good job I did, was promoted often, and was generously compensated in $$$ terms for my output.
One of the most unexpected changes of becoming a stay-at-home Mom was the instant vacuum of external validation. Suddenly, no one was telling me I was doing a good job or encouraging me to keep going. No one was giving me a paycheck for all the time, sweat and tears (there were a lot of them!) that I put into doing my best at Mom'ing and homemaking. Instead, the positive validation was replaced with the (normal but exhausting) demands of 2 little kids, a husband who wondered what I did all day long, and my own frustration that I felt I was working 24/7 with no measurable (or valued) output.
Part of the problem is that the output I was (and still am) producing is just not valued in our society. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, chauffuering kids, coaching them through their emotions (the list goes on). All necessary jobs in making society function, and yet almost invisible.
But the other part is that, already as young children, external validation is built into the system. We learn to manage our emotions through rewards and punishment from our parents, school grades, sports awards, and the opinions of others.
After leaving the workforce in 2012, I turned to my Mom, who was the one constant cheerleader who had always been there for me. While I didn't always believe what she told me (she was afterall prone to bias 😆), her encouragement went a long way.
And now that she is gone, I am having to learn to rely on myself. To be my own cheerleader. I recently read a phrase that went something like this: "if we live for someone else's praise, we will die from their criticism."
I am learning that validation from the outside is completely unreliable and superficial. Self love, confidence and happiness can only come from within. So simple in theory and so challenging in practice! 💗
Michelle Borner, a mom on 23 missions, blogs about her Deep Thoughts on a wide range of topics from parenting to conscious living to lessons from brain cancer.
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