You don’t need anyone else’s validation. This seems obvious right? Sometimes we don’t even realise when we are seeking it. When I was 23 I got married and he was 11 years older than me. He was very stuck in his ways with an arrogant attitude, which I didn’t really see back then. If I met him for the first time now I’d probably say he was pretentious. I’m not saying these things to be horrible, I’m trying to build up the picture.
Fast forward to recently, my son came back from having dinner with him and was very upset. He’d said some unpleasant things about my capabilities in the world of employment. I should point out that we have been divorced for about 12/13 years but still to this day he despises me, I can only assume for leaving him (unless there are other crazy imagined assaults in his mind which he’s not voiced). Now, although I was upset that my son was upset by his bad-mouthing me… I was in no way upset by his low opinion of me in and of itself. His opinion means nothing to me anymore. This however, has not always been the case.
For many sad years, I listened to the things that he said and believed them. When we were married, he treated me like a child and as if I were stupid. The actual fact was that I had never lived on my own before and as I was still quite young there were many things I didn’t yet know. Nothing to do with my level of intelligence. This however, meant that for many years after my divorce I was on a mission to prove I wasn’t stupid. When I left him I had severe post-natal depression and he wouldn’t let me take my boys with me. The truth is, I was that down-trodden at that point in my life I truly felt like I wasn’t good enough for them.
When I first met my ex husband, he told me he had a psychology degree. I later found out that actually that wasn’t true. To prove a point, in 2010 I joined the Open University…to do a psychology degree.
One summer I took my two sons on a fun run in Wakefield, so that I could spend time with them while he did the 10k there. Afterwards, we all stood around being polite and I said to them (he and his girlfriend at the time) ‘I might sign up to do a 10k’ and he look at me incredulously and ‘You wouldn’t be able to do it’. So, I knuckled down and in the following January I ran the Dewsbury 10k, then the Race for Life, then another Dewsbury 10k then when I heard he had been accepted to the London Marathon I got in touch with the ex-ultra marathoner Al Arnold and had many lovely emails exchanged with advise and encouragement while I stepped it up and then went for the Leeds Half Marathon. At the time I had taken the limits off.
I don’t know at which point I stopped trying to prove myself, no matter how good a mother I am to my sons, he will always tell every person who will listen that I am the work of the devil and treat me with disdain. I think it was probably only around a year ago when I started coaching that I realised that I had nothing to prove to anyone. I know what I am capable of. I know and continue to know my own intelligence. Yes, I’ve made stupid mistakes, everyone does! I learnt from them. I forgave myself.
Around the same time I stopped trying to prove myself, I realise I had been practising mindfulness for just over a year and I had reached the stage where I had decided that I needed to forgive people from my past because the only person it was hurting was me. So I found that holy grail and was able to go down my list and forgive those people. If you do one thing today, please take your power back! Don’t try to prove your worthiness to people, you don’t need validation from anyone. You ARE enough just as you are!