Many of us thrive on gaining external positive affirmation for our endeavors. We all need positive reinforcement for our efforts at home, work and in our personal relationships, but the key is to not rely too much on others to validate your existence. Sometimes, people are so wrapped up in their own lives and challenges that they won’t take the time to recognize the time and energy you have placed in something you thought was quite noteworthy. Maybe there is also some underlying issue of jealousy or envy. It is so hard not to take this personally, but the best advice I ever got was that you should just do something for your own sense of fulfillment without ever expecting anyone else to appreciate what you have done– if they do, it will be a bonus, but expecting praise from others is a recipe for disaster.
Most of my life, I have felt like the little boy in the Kite Runner, chasing that kite and waiting for that glorious day of ultimate praise. If you have read the story, you know how it ends. I cried when I read that book a few years ago, and it really made me reassess things. This past year, I severed all contact with one parent and went in search of the other; I also resigned from my firm this summer and decided to return to solo practice. These were not easy choices to make, and although the gains outweighed the losses, there was a significant amount of loss. Not everyone around me understood or agreed with my choices, but the bottom line is that it no longer mattered to me what others thought, I just needed to be at peace with myself.
Different events may create a trigger that sets a person off on a life-altering journey, but the most important thing to remember is that during these trying times, you will have to rely immensely on your own inner strength. During difficult times, you really do learn who your core group of reliable sources are, but these may not always be available for you, and there will be incredibly lonely times when you have to be able to validate yourself. Every morning I found it helpful to come up with three positive phrases filled with words of affirmation that made me look forward to each new day. Sometimes, we have to find our own hope within ourselves, and if you can find the courage within yourself to face the challenges that lie ahead, what greater affirmation is there than that?