Validation Seekers to Meaning Seekers

Who is a Validation seeker?  

A person who is doing an act either in the anticipation of the reaction (mostly positive) or on completion of the act, expect the reaction. The expected reaction is not mere expectation, but it is actually validation or confirmation. And most of us fall in this category. 

Who is a Meaning seeker? 

A person who is brimming with the curiosity to unravel, know and understand the meaning behind every object & act. And they act only post understanding the meaning or works towards understanding the meaning while performing the act or at the finish. But the core is always looking for a meaning of everything. 

Why are some of us Validation seekers?  

I call this a pet behavior as most of the pets behave this way, they do an act so that the human friend of theirs validates their act and pats them or gives them food or notices them. Why only pets even infants behave like this to seek attention and being an attention seeker is the first step towards becoming a validation seeker. So, the validation seeking is an animal behavior ingrained in all of us biologically. 

But I think more than the biological dimension, the culture and societal set up makes us a validation seeker. Right from the childhood we are told “If you do this you will get a chocolate” or “if you don’t do this you will not get a chocolate” or similar statements. All these Risk / Reward games promote validation seeking as the act is performed because at the end it will be validated, appreciated, and rewarded. So, the motivation here is “Validation”. 

It is seen not only in families but everywhere in the society – schools, colleges, neighbors, friends, & workplace etc 

You are motivated to become a validation seeker by showing the carrot of a reward or by the stick of punishment or by forcing you to think of what others will think & say about you. 

What is the problem in being a validation seeker? 

No problem if you choose to be one consciously but let us at least state the facts associated with being a validation seeker and then let the decision be yours. 

The validation seeking acts will not make you happy, ok maybe it provides you a few moments of material happiness and you have to quickly think about another act which will help you win a reward via the validation route. 

You have to continuously improvise on your tricks to make others happy, come up with new ones as the old ones will loose their charm after a few repetition. This puts a lot of pressure & stress on you and if one of your colleagues / friends comes up with a better trick than yours, it adds one more pressure called “peer pressure”. In capitalist terminology it is also called as Competition. Competition is good for the consumers, but I am not sure how good it is for the competitors.   

You stop living and acting for your self but only do things to receive a validation from others – parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers, Bosses, spouses, children, & audiences etc. 

Your lever of happiness is in someone else’s control – if they give positive validation it makes you happy, in case of negative validation makes you sad. And that lever was handed over to them voluntarily by you. 

What do Meaning seekers do differently? 

When meaning seekers act, the cause of their act is never an expectation of the validation, appreciation at the end of the act. You act because you understood the meaning of what you are doing & why you are doing. Important point – Meaning is not an outcome; it is not variable so it is almost like a fact. It is mostly a cause which can drive behaviors. Let me share a story to explain this better – 

Remember the battlefield of Kurukshetra from the epic of Mahabharat. When Arjun is worried about going to the war with his relatives. Of what the society will say that he killed his brothers to win a kingdom. He was worried about the negative validation at the end of the war. But Krishna helps Arjun establish and understand the meaning. Which becomes the cause, powerful enough to propel Arjun into the war and win it. Now what did Krishna explain, please read “Bhagwat Gita” and yes that is why that book is so famous and referred as it is a very good example of transformation of Arjun from being a Validation seeker to a Meaning seeker. Could Arjun have undergone this transformation by himself – maybe, maybe not but for sure not so quickly / timely to participate and win a war. It was Krishna – The best Coach ever who helped in the transformation of Arjun by being a catalyst. 

Why should you be a Meaning seeker? 

You may choose not to be one. But let us visit the facts associated with being a Meaning seeker. 

Becoming a meaning seeker takes off all the pressure & stress out of the equation as now you are doing certain act because you understand the meaning behind it and not because you need someone’s validation at the end of it. And when you are not driven by a superficial element like validation, you are mostly driven by a very deep rooted and core element like passion or purpose or both. And these core drivers are much more skilled and stronger than the superficial ones and probability of success suddenly goes up by many fold. 

You would have often heard “repeated task becomes boring” really? Does it apply to all the repeated tasks? I don’t think so, you eat three times a day and at least sleep every day, but do you get bored of eating and sleeping? 

Repeated tasks which are done for seeking validation get boring because the validation for the same act is not repeated. Audience will clap once, twice may be a few more times but with every repeat the intensity of claps will reduce and will stop at some point. And it is the point where boredom sets in as the motivation for the act was validation, which cease to exist. It happens in so many spheres of your private and public life that you will not struggle to find enough examples – Think about some.        

The origin of motivation is internal rather than external which means you can better control and manage your motivation rather than it being controlled by the validation and reaction of others. 

How to transform from being a validation seeker to a meaning seeker? 

Very simple approach – Before doing anything just ask one question to yourself: 

Am I doing this with an expectation of a validation at the outcome? 

If the answer to the above question is “yes” then try to understand the meaning behind what you are doing, why are you doing it? What is the core reason? Are you convinced of the meaning / reason? If it lies in your area of passion then Viola !! 

Let me admit that getting the answer to the first question above is easy but finding the meaning is very tough but necessary. That is where coaches (like Krishna) play a role. 

I hope the above discussion triggered your question buds and post reading you end up with more questions than answers, if not here are a few more questions for you to ponder upon – 

Is there something called “Self-validation”? Is it good? Is it like being a meaning seeker? 

Do share your thoughts, comments, questions, ideas, & viewpoints….     

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