Why is Your Work so Important to You?
One of the most powerful impulses we have as human beings is our need for validation; the idea that what we do and value also has value in the eyes of another. In fact, the need for validation is so strong that even receiving praise from strangers, people whose judgment we really have no reason to value, makes us feel better about ourselves.
We seek validation from loved ones and friends, business associates, our boss, and employees. However, by placing so much importance on the opinions of others, we also set ourselves up to be hurt by, or resistant to, negative feedback
Seeking validation for your work begins with you
An article at PsychCentral.com, titled The Importance of Validation by Linda Sapadin, PhD, caused me to ponder the notion, why we attach so much importance to our work. In the article, Dr. Sapadin asks two important questions, “Do we always need to receive validation from others? Or can we give it to ourselves?”
Her answer is that validation begins with the self; “When you recognize your good traits, you are not being narcissistic. When you praise yourself for your accomplishments (provided you don’t go overboard), you are not being self-centered… Indeed, if you don’t praise yourself, you’ll have a tendency to negate the validation you do receive.”
This leads inevitably to the question, Are you trying to prove something to someone with the work you do?
To whom are you trying to prove it, yourself or others? Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Or, do you do what you do because it’s fun and intrinsically rewarding? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself when you find yourself consumed by your work – either the quality or the quantity of it.
My work is an extension of who I am. While it does not define me as a human being, it certainly does help to clarify who I am, reinforcing my beliefs, my values, and my personality. On a good day, I validate myself for the effort and passion I put into my work. I acknowledge the work I do that is in line with my purpose and that makes use of my strengths. The praise of others is not necessary for me to value myself or my work, but is merely icing on the cake.
If you’re looking to increase your levels of success and happiness, that journey begins with self-validation, a form of self-care we can choose to do every day.